Climate change made record-breaking Northwest heatwave 150 times


Yes, blame climate change.

Human-induced global warming fueled the heatwave. probably killed hundreds of people Last week in the US Pacific Northwest and Canada.

The massive accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere made the unprecedented weather event 150 times more likely. an analysis According to World Weather Attribution. loosely connected team of global scientists He concluded that without climate change, which has already warmed the planet by about 1.2 ˚F (1.2 ˚C), an extreme heat wave would be “almost impossible”.

Scientists have long resisted attributing a single weather event to climate change, adhering to the general point that it will make heat waves, droughts, fires, and hurricanes increasingly frequent and severe. But more satellite data recordings, increased computing power, and higher resolution climate simulations have made researchers more confident in stating that global warming significantly increases the likelihood of certain disasters, often within a few days. (See 10 Breakthrough Technology 2020: Climate Change Relation.)

Extreme temperatures last week heat records of all time destroyed Power outages in cities and towns in the region tens of thousands of homesIt has put more than 2,000 people in emergency rooms for heat-related illnesses in Washington and Oregon.

So far, authorities have reported more than 100 heat-related deaths in these states. various media outlets. In addition, approximately 500 “sudden and unexpected deaths” occurred in British Columbia during the relevant five-day period, approximately 300 more than normal.

The most likely scenario is that higher global temperatures exacerbate the consequences of unusual atmospheric conditions that occurred last week, as a so-called heat dome traps warm air over much of the region. If so, similar events could happen once or twice a decade if temperatures rise by 3.6 ˚F (2 ˚C), the researchers said.

The less worrying possibility is that greenhouse gas emissions are pushing the climate system beyond an unknown and little-understood threshold; where planetary warming now triggers sharper-than-expected increases in extreme temperatures. This theory will require more research to evaluate. But the researchers said it would mean severe heatwaves would exceed levels predicted by current climate models.

“With four or five degrees Celsius (seven to nine degrees Fahrenheit) you don’t have to set a record,” Friederike Otto, vice president of World Weather Attribution and deputy director of the Oxford University Institute for Environmental Change, said in a statement. . “This is such an exceptional event that we cannot rule out the possibility that we may experience extreme temperatures today, which we only expect to reach higher levels of global warming.”

Another heat wave expected To push temperatures back to triple digits in parts of the Northwest in the coming days.


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