Scientists link summer of extreme weather to climate change

Scientists link summer of extreme weather to climate change

By Georgina Wade    

This summer’s severe weather has been one for the record books, with countries across the world facing extremely high temperatures. The heatwave across the northern hemisphere, has seen wildfires in the Arctic Circle and prolonged heat across the UK and Europe. In London, rising temperatures have forced Mayor Sadiq Khan to trigger a high pollution warning as forecasters predict the mercury could reach 37˚C by the end of the month.

In southern Europe, fierce blazes have devastated parts of Greece, resulting in a multitude of deaths. Japan has also declared a natural disaster, as high temperatures have lead to thousands being admitted to hospital with heat stroke. Africa recently recorded its highest reliably measured temperature in modern history: 124.3 degrees (51.3 Celsius) in Algeria.

A map from Copernicus Climate Change Services revealed just how bad the situation is with every continent shown to be experiencing above average temperatures for July.

Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and Columbia University recently revealed that the average surface temperature on Earth between January and June this year was the third hottest half-year on record since 1880 with the last four years – 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 – taking the top four spots for the hottest-recorded half-year periods ever documented.

“When a record is broken once, it’s a fluke. When it happens again, it’s a coincidence. When it happens three times, it’s a trend, but when it happens every single year, it’s a movement,” environmental chemist Sarah Green said over an email.

The reason for all of this is uncomplicated. Greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere, largely from the burning of fossil fuels, continue to rise. Carbon dioxide levels reached 400 parts per million in 2016 and topped 411 parts per million in May of this year, the highest level in 800,000 years.

This ongoing bout of extreme weather is a direct result of this concentration increase and is set to continue. And with the World Meteorological Association calling 2018 the hottest La Niña year on record, things may well get hotter still in the years to come.

Cover photo by Skeeze/Pixabay/(public domain).

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