From record rainfall flooding cities around the world to forest fires burning an unprecedented area to deadly heat waves that have come with untiring regularity to the northern hemisphere this summer, extreme weather associated with climate change unfolds with frightening clarity.
“This is a direct impact of the climate crisis,” John Kerry, President Biden’s special envoy for climate change, told CBS News about the surprisingly recent series of extreme weather disasters.
As greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere continue to rise, so do global temperatures. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, average surface temperatures have risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius, setting in motion changes in the Earth’s climate, which are manifested in more frequent extreme weather events.
“Rising global average temperatures are associated with extensive changes in weather patterns,” the Environmental Protection Agency said on its website. “Scientific studies indicate that extreme weather events such as heat waves and major storms are likely to become more frequent or more intense with man-made climate change.”
This summer, there has been no shortage of weather events, which climate scientists have at least partially concluded were exacerbated by global warming. Here is an overview of some weather events that have taken place over the last two months.
Heavy rains overwhelm the infrastructure
When the planet gets hot, it is able to hold more moisture in the atmosphere. Studies have shown that the atmosphere holds 7 percent more moisture for every 1 degree Celsius warming. This fact helps explain the almost daily headlines of extreme rainfall that have flooded cities and towns around the world in recent weeks, including this month’s flood in western Germany – 7 inches of rain in just 12 hours – leaving nearly 200 people died.
Last week, a storm over Zhengzhou, China, parked for 72 hours and dumped one year of rainfalland killed more than 36 people and displaced one million people due to floods. Drivers got stuck in underground tunnels and forced them to crawl on top of submerged cars to escape. Drowning was also reported in the city’s metro system.
For the second time in two weeks, extreme rainfall lamb London Sunday dump a month’s rain in a matter of hours. This downpour flooded the subway, closing eight stations and flooding highways and urban areas that trapped motorists in cars and residents in their homes.
While monsoon rains occur every year in India, this year’s rains have proved anything but ordinary. More than 164 people were reported dead this week after rain showers in the western part of Maharashtra. Houses were submerged in floodwaters, landslides were triggered, and dozens of people were trapped thanks to the worst extreme rainfall in decades.
In addition to the extra moisture in the atmosphere due to rising temperatures, another common link that climate scientists are studying is how climate change is changing jet streams. As a result of this disturbance, storm systems have been observed to move more slowly in some parts of the world, allowing more rain to accumulate in certain places.
Forest fires spread
While rising temperatures mean more moisture in the atmosphere, it does not always translate to rain all over the globe. In the American West, for example, severe drought has taken hold and higher temperatures are further worsened conditions for forest fires.
In the western United States, the “fire season” is now 2.5 times longer than it was in the 1970s, according to the U.S. Forest Service, and in terms of the worst seasons recorded, the nine largest areas burned by forest fires have all been found. place since 2005.
At least 85 active fires are currently burning across the western states, and this year’s season is ready to break the record for land burning, which was set last year. Dangerous smoke from the flames has carpets community all the way to the east coast.
In Siberia, meanwhile, more than 5,000 firefighters are battling flames burning over 4.6 million hectares, the largest outbreak of forest fires since 2019.
Aisen Nikolaev, the leader of the northern Siberian region of Sakha, said in an interview this week that the ultimate cause of the dramatic increase in forest fires in the area was not a mystery.
“Obviously there is only one reason: Global climate change,” said Nikolaev. “We can see how it gets warmer [Sakha] annual. We are going through the hottest, driest summer in the history of meteorological measurements since the end of the 19th century. ”
Forest fires have also forced people to evacuate their homes in southern Europe, including the Italian island of Sardinia. More than 7,500 firefighters were deployed to fight large flames on the island, and more than 1,000 people were evacuated.
In Greece, heat waves have contributed to exacerbating forest fires this year, and above-average temperatures are expected to increase the threat further in the coming days.
“I want to emphasize that August remains a difficult month. Meteorologists are already warning us that from the end of next week we may be facing another major prolonged heat wave. That is why it is important for all of us, all the government services, to be on full alert until the firefighting period is formally over, “said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at a cabinet meeting on Monday, CNN reported.
Heat wave after heat wave
In the wake of the brutal heat wave that shook much of the Pacific Northwest and Canada, studies have shown that as climate change continues to worsen, heat waves become more common. We already know that the number of record high temperatures exceeds the number of record low temperatures by a ratio of 2: 1. Computer models have shown that the difference will grow to 20: 1 by 2050 and to 50: 1 by 2100.
Supporting this discovery, “the 10 warmest years recorded have all occurred since 2005, and 7 of the 10 have occurred since 2014,” says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. on its website. The agency has also found that global temperatures are currently rising at a rate of 0.18 degrees Celsius per day. Decade, much faster than previously thought.
As millions of Americans are expected to be exposed to triple digit temperatures in the coming days, heat deaths are also expected to rise. The heat dome, which fell over the Northwest Pacific, is blamed for the deaths of nearly 200 people across the region. Extreme heat is the leading cause of weather-related death in the United States, according to the National Weather Service.
Erich Fischer, climate researcher at ETH Zurich, is the lead author of a new study it confirms that we can expect a greater number of deadly heat waves as temperatures continue to rise.
“The main message is that we need to prepare for more record heat events in the coming decades, shattering previous record temperatures by large margins,” Fischer said. told Axios.
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