According to a new study published in the journal Earth’s Future, the simultaneous heat waves experienced by residents of the Northern Hemisphere last summer “would not have occurred without human-induced climate change”.
What’s more, scorching heat is already picking up speed in many parts of the world – some cities are now seeing the highest monthly temperatures in history, or close to that – which indicates that abnormal summer heat could now be a mainstay across the globe.
Case in point, Finnish meteorologist Mika Rantanen from the University of Helsinki recently posted a tweet claiming there to be “no known cases n Finland’s climate history where it has been hotter than now so early in the summer”.
While it remains to be seen whether global temperatures are going to climb as high as last year, the new study claims that many, if not most, of the “unprecedented extreme heat events” now have a detectable human influence.
Climate models used in the study and ran by researchers in Switzerland and the United Kingdom have shown that events such as those recorded last summer do not occur in historical simulations and were unprecedented a mere 9 years ago.
The authors claim that if global warming was to halt at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, similar heat waves are likely to occur during two out of every three years. However, if global temperature rise caps at 2 degrees Celsius (which is the goal of the Paris Agreement), heat waves are likely to occur every summer.
In closing out the study, the authors call for immediate action, claiming that in order to avoid “major future impacts associated with human-induced global heat waves, we have to take ambitious mitigation actions to strongly reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.