A recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that the deadly heatwave which broke all former records in the Pacific Northwest would occur more often than we would like. Record-breaking heatwaves would be more frequent in most of the U.S, Asia, and Europe.
The study explains that this extremity in climate change is driven by unprecedented heat resulting from a quickening pace of warming, and it will also shoot more extreme temperatures in the coming decades.
The study also foregrounds that speculating the future infrastructural decisions by looking at the past extreme temperatures would not be of much help because it is difficult to estimate how fast the temperature will rise due to the greenhouse gases.
Moreover, the heatwaves and their occurrence are more dependent upon the rate of warming rather than the actual temperature and its rise above the pre-industrial levels. It is the more determining factor in the exceeding temperatures of a particular location and how frequent it would be.
Erich Fischer, a senior scientist at ETH Zurich and a lead author of the UN climate science assessment currently under review, told AFP, “The future probability of record-shattering extremes depends on the emissions pathway that gets us to a given level of warming,” Fischer said.
Moreover, he asserts that “because we are in a period of very rapid warming, we need to prepare for more heat events that shatter previous records by large margins.”
The study alerts that with the current rates of warming, the world is shooting up 0. 2 degrees Celsius every decade, which will continue for at least 10-20 more years no matter how fast the world reduces its carbon emissions.
However, the study says that the endeavor to minimize the greenhouse effect would be beneficial later.
“Because the probability of record-shattering events is directly related to the speed of warming, this is yet another piece of the puzzle that demonstrates that in order to reduce the risk of such record-shattering heat, greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced very rapidly,” Fischer said.
The climate scientists focused on “weeklong record-shattering heatwaves” similar to the Pacific Northwest and Canada to understand how these series of heatwaves would have changed “depending upon the rate and amount of greenhouse emissions”, wrote Axios in its analysis.
A climate scientist at UCLA, Daniel Swain, praised the paper calling it a “remarkable paper”. He added that the paper was submitted before the series of heatwaves this summer. “The notion that events we assumed were vanishingly rare or impossible, due to our relatively limited historical record, are probably not nearly so rare in the real world,” said Swain while highlighting the fact that the Pacific Northwest heat event was perhaps not a result of unheard weather patterns though unusual.
According to a report by Physics.org, Rowan Sutton, a professor at the University of Reading’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science, in Britain too commented, “This new study shines a valuable spotlight on the high potential for record-shattering extremes. Whilst it may not seem rapid to us, Earth is warming at a rate that is unprecedented in the history of human civilization.”