February 25, 2024

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Why is the UK heat wave so bad and how climate change will affect the future

Why is the UK heat wave so bad and how climate change will affect the future


For two weeks, computer models have raised the possibility that Britain will reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees) this week, a level Unprecedented since at least 1850 – Perhaps in more than 6000 years. Meteorologists stared at these model predictions in disbelief, skeptical that such predictions would come true.

Six days ago, the UK Met Office determined the odds of reaching just 40°C 10 percent.

But it seems unlikely The model’s predictions proved correct. London Heathrow Airport It was among the six sites In the United Kingdom, it topped 40 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, breaking Britain’s temperature record.

This is the latest example of how human-caused climate change is pushing temperatures to levels previously considered unfathomable – faster than many imagine.

Britain is experiencing its hottest day ever

In 2020, the Met Office released forecasts suggesting the kind of heat seen in Britain on Tuesday could happen fairly routinely by 2050. But seeing it happen in 2022 shocked scientists as a premature and ominous preview of what’s to come.

“I wasn’t expecting to see this in my career,” said Stephen Belcher, chief of science and technology at the Met Office. In an online video.

Belcher warned that if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed, UK temperatures could eventually rise every three years.

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Another factor that stunned scientists: It was not only that Britain’s temperature record was smashed, but defeated by 1.6°C (2.9°F). The previous mark was 38.7 degrees Celsius, and it was recorded in Cambridge two summers ago.

“For meteorologists, skipping records by a margin of 2 or 3 degrees is an amazing idea when historical records have been broken by only fractions of a degree,” Simon King saidBBC meteorologist.

The Met Office reported that at least 34 locations In the country surpassed the previous national record.

The number of high temperature records set in the UK on Tuesday is reminiscent of both daytime highs and nighttime lows, and the scale with which they were broken by last year’s Pacific Northwest heat wave.

That heat wave Setting high temperature records By huge margins in Seattle and Portland, it hit 108 degrees and 116 degrees. Lytton, a village in British Columbia, broke Canada’s previous temperature record of 113 degrees on three consecutive days, peaking at 121 degrees on June 29.

‘Difficult to understand’: Experts react to Canada’s 121 score

Scientists at the World Weather Attribution project have found that climate change has occurred Making a heat wave in the Pacific Northwest at least 150 times likely.

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Meteorologists have also marveled at how dramatically temperatures in the north have risen in this week’s European heat wave. London is farther north than any other location in the lower 48 states and lies at a latitude north of Calgary. His height was 104 higher than Houston and Miami.

Corinne Le KerryClimate research professor at the University of East Anglia said the high temperatures seen in the UK It shouldn’t be too shocking.

“We should not be surprised by the extreme temperatures we are experiencing in the UK this week,” she said in an email. “The rise in extreme temperatures is a direct consequence of climate change caused by human greenhouse gas emissions. Temperature records will continue to be more extreme in the future.”

But other scientists said the scale of these heat waves may force people to reassess what climate change events might bring.

“I think it’s possible, as a society, that we have severely underestimated the risks and potential consequences of external heat events in densely populated/temperate areas where extreme heat has historically been rare,” Daniel Swain tweeted, a climate scientist at the University of California. “And the # Climate change increases the risks.”

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“The models, if any, underestimate the possibility of future increases in different types of extremism [summer weather] events,” Michael Mann, a professor at Penn State, told the Guardian.

Kasha Patel contributed to this report.