Heatwaves that break records are being attributed to the rate of global warming, according to a new study.
Researchers stated Monday that heatwaves that demolish temperature records, such as those in western Canada this month and Siberia last year, are driven by the rapid pace of global warming rather than the amount of warming.
According to the findings, which were published in the journal Nature Climate Change, humanity is set to face a lot more deadly scorchers in the coming decades.
“We need to prepare for additional heat events that break existing records by big margins since we are in a phase of very rapid warming,” head author Erich Fischer, a senior scientist at ETH Zurich and a lead author of the UN climate scientific report presently under review, told AFP.
Temperatures in British Columbia reached 49.6 degrees Celsius (121 degrees Fahrenheit), more than five degrees higher than the warmest day ever recorded in Canada.
The report warns that current warming rates – around 0.2 degrees Celsius each decade – are expected to continue for at least another 10 to 20 years, regardless of how quickly mankind eliminates the carbon pollution that causes global warming.
However, measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the next decade will pay off in the long run.
“The likelihood of record-breaking extremes in the future is dependent on the emissions trajectory that leads to a certain level of warming,” Fischer added.
Until date, research on how global warming would effect heatwaves has primarily focused on how much temperatures have risen in comparison to a reference period rather than how quickly they have risen.
Of course, this is vital, because science has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that a warmer globe would result in more and hotter heatwaves.
However, failing to account for how quickly temperatures rise misses a crucial aspect of the picture.
“One would expect record temperatures to become infrequent the longer we measure without climate change,” Fischer explained.
Similarly, if average global temperatures stabilize – say, at 1.5 degrees Celsius over mid-nineteenth-century levels, as the Paris Agreement aspires to – stunning new records will become less common.
Fischer compares it to track and field, saying that the longer a sport has existed, the more difficult it is to break a world record. For example, the long and high jump records have been held for decades or are only ever surpassed by a centimetre or two.
However, if athletes begin to use performance-enhancing drugs, as happened in American baseball in the late 1990s, records are broken frequently and by a large margin.
“Right now, the climate is behaving like a steroid-addicted athlete,” Fischer added.
At present greenhouse gas levels. Brief News from Washington Newsday.