The scorching heatwave gripping northern Europe was made twice as likely to happen by climate change, scientists have revealed.
An initial assessment of the prolonged period of record-breaking hot weather suggests rising temperatures caused by human activity increased the odds of it happening.
The preliminary research claims to have found ‘unambiguous’ evidence that human interference has triggered the recent heatwave, which computer models predict will continue until the end of August.
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People enjoy the Bournemouth beach in Dorset, England, as the hot weather continues across Britain. Britain is experiencing a severe heatwave which has prompted its national weather service to issue an alert for people to ‘stay out of the sun’
‘The logic that climate change will do this is inescapable – the world is becoming warmer and so heatwaves like this are becoming more common,’ said one of the authors Dr Friederike Otto, deputy director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford and and part of the World Weather Attribution (WWA) consortium that did the latest research.
‘What was once regarded as unusually warm weather will become commonplace – in some cases, it already has.’
The heatwave has seen temperatures soar across the globe.
England recorded highs of 36°C (97°F) on ‘Furnace Friday’ today, while Sweden is basking in the hottest summer in over a century. The mercury topped-out at an unseasonably warm 38°C (100°F) in parts of Southern California, and heat levels have soared to more than 46°C (115°F) in Saudi Arabia.
In Japan, at least 80 people have died and a further 22,000 have been hospitalised with heat stroke as a result of sky-rocketing temperatures, which have reached record highs of 41.1°C (105°F) in the capital of Tokyo.
The widespread nature of the heatwave has sparked a conversation about the role global warming has to play in the spikes in temperature.
The latest analysis compared the latest extreme weather with historical measurements, modelling them against computer models that revealed what a climate with unaltered carbon emissions would resemble.
Using this technique, researchers can see the extent to which global warming has affected the prevalence of dangerous weather.
The heatwave gripping northern Europe has been made twice as likely by climate change, scientists have revealed. An initial assessment of the prolonged spell of hot weather suggests rising temperatures caused by human activity increased the odds of it happening
WHAT IS CAUSING THE SUMMER 2018 GLOBAL HEATWAVE?
There are several leading theories as to what may be causing the recent global heatwave, according to University of Reading climate scientist Professor Len Shaffrey.
1. Climate Change: Temperatures are increasing globally due to the burning of fossil fuels increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The global rise in temperatures means that heatwaves are becoming more extreme. The past few years have seen some record-breaking temperatures in Europe, for example the 2015 heatwave and the 2017 ‘Lucifer’ heatwave in Central Europe. Unusually warm summer temperatures have been recorded elsewhere, for example in Canada and Japan, and climate change is very likely to have played a role here as well.
2. North Atlantic Ocean Temperatures: Temperatures over the North Atlantic Ocean can play a role in setting the position of the jet stream, which in turn has a profound impact on the weather we experience in the UK and Ireland. This summer has seen relatively warm North Atlantic Ocean temperatures in the subtropics and cold ocean temperatures to the south of Greenland. These are thought to be influencing the high pressure over Europe and pushing the jet stream further northwards.
3. La Nina: Every few years, ocean temperatures in the Tropical Pacific swing between being relatively warm (known as El Nino) and cool (La Nina). Since October last year the Tropical Pacific has been in a La Nina phase. La Nina is sometimes associated with cold winters in North Western Europe (for example the winter of 2010/11 and the recent cold spell in March 2018). However, this year’s La Nina had started to weaken around April and had almost gone by June when the current dry spell in the UK began.
4. It’s the weather: The above factors influence type of the weather get in the UK and Ireland but good or bad luck also plays a role, especially for very unusual weather such as the current hot and dry spell. This summer is no different and the hot and dry weather is partly due a combination of North Atlantic Ocean temperatures, climate change and the weather. Should weather patterns continue as they are then we might expect this summer will turn out to be as hot and dry as the extreme summer of 1976.
World Weather Attribution network researchers compared the currently high temperatures with historical records at seven weather stations in northern Europe.
They looked at data collated from two sites in Finland and one each in Denmark, the Irish Republic, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
The study assessed these stations because they track current weather in real-time and posses digitised records of this measurements as far back as the early 1900s.
For every year on record, the researchers located the three hottest consecutive days.
For 2018, they took the three hottest sequential days. Analysis of temperatures from Dublin suggest man-made climate change made the heatwave an estimated two times more likely, while in Copenhagen the odds increased by a factor of five.
As an extended heatwave sees temperatures in the UK topping 36°C (97°F) today, Britain has been sent into a frenzy as it suits up for what could be its hottest day since records began. The heat this week was driven by a bank of high-pressure called the ‘Mediterranean melt’
The current ‘Mediterranean Melt’ has seen temperatures soar, with records breaking as the mercury reaches new heights internationally, and especially in Europe. Today, temperatures were predicted to hit 36°C (97°F) on ‘Furnace Friday’, with London expected to be hotter than any other European spot
WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO KEEP COOL DURING A HEATWAVE?
The NHS has a number of tips for keeping cool during bouts of unusually hot weather.
– Drink plenty of fluids
– Open windows or other vents around the home
– Shade or cover windows exposed to direct sunlight
– Grow plants inside and outside to provide shade and help cool the air
– Turn off lights and electrical equipment that isn’t in use
– Take a break if your home gets too hot: Head to a nearby air-conditioned building like a library or supermarket
‘The historical record does allow us to make a calculation, and it shows that climate change has generally increased the odds of the current heatwave more than two-fold,’ said Dr Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, Senior Researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI).
‘And while that is a striking finding, it’s hard for us to quantify the increase in likelihood accurately because summer temperatures vary a lot from year to year, making it impossible to estimate the trend from the observations.
The research is still in its formative stage, as a full-scale study will take many months to complete. As a preliminary study, it will still need to be ratified and validated with further modelling using high-powered computers.
With European heatwaves expected to become more common thanks to climate change, the researchers also say the scale of the heatwave in the Arctic has been unprecedented.
Unlike hotter nations such as Australia, few homes in Britain have air conditioning units to combat the heat. Pictured is a sunbathing beachgoer snapped in Britain last week
HOW HIGH DID GLOBAL TEMPERATURES REACH DURING THE HEATWAVE OF JULY 2018?
Temperature records worldwide were shattered by an unusual global heatwave in late June and early July 2018.
Stifling heat cracked roads and buckled roofs across Britain, as Motherwell hit the highest temperature ever recorded in Scotland at 91.8°F (33.2°C). The previous record was 91.2°F (32.9°C) set in August 2003 at Greycrook.
Glasgow had its hottest day on record, hitting 89.4°F (31.9°C).
In Ireland, on June 28 Belfast also reached a record high, as it hit 85.1°F (29.5°C). Shannon also hit its own record at 89.6°F (32°C). In Northern Ireland, Castlederg hit 86.2°F (30.1°C) on June 29, its record highest.
In Canada, Montreal smashed its previous record for the hottest temperature, as readings showed 97.9 °F (36.6°C)
Ottawa posted its most extreme combination of heat and humidity on July 1.
Meanwhile in the US, Denver, the Colorado state capital, tied its all-time high-temperature record of 105°F (40°C) on June 28
Burlington, in Vermont, set its all-time warmest low temperature ever, recording a low of 80°F (27°C) within the 24 hour period on July 2
Whilst the islands in Western Europe smouldered in its own heatwave, Eurasia was baking as well.
Yerevan, in the previously Soviet state of Armenia, saw temperatures soar to 107.6°F (42°C).
Russia, the host country of the World Cup this year, is also in the midst of a heatwave and several spots across the south of the world’s largest country either matched or exceeded their warmest June temperatures.
In the Middle-Eastern nation of Oman, the lowest temperature for 24 hours on June 28 was 108.7°F (42.6°C) in the coastal city of Quriyat’s.
These fantastical numbers come just months after Pakistan posted the hottest temperature ever seen on Earth.
At times, temperatures exceeded 30°C (86°F) in the Arctic Circle.
In the hurried-out research, the researchers were unable to provide a clear resolution to explain the impact human influence has on the polar region.
‘We found that for the weather station in the far north, in the Arctic Circle, the current heat wave is just extraordinary – unprecedented in the historical record,’ said Dr Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, Senior Researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI).
‘And while that is a striking finding, it’s hard for us to quantify the increase in likelihood accurately because summer temperatures vary a lot from year to year, making it impossible to estimate the trend from the observations.’
Britain is experiencing a blistering summer heatwave, with temperatures set to top 36°C (97°F) in parts of the UK today. Pictured is a Queen’s Guard soldier in the heat in London last week
Revealed: The UK heatwave has now lasted for 32 days
The top temperature in Britain has been over 78F (25.6C) for 32 days in a row up to and including yesterday, making today the 33rd day of the heatwave.
Of the 32 days so far, 22 have seen temperatures of at least 85F (29.4C), while six have been at least 90F (32C). The hottest day of 2018 record has been broken six times within the period.
Here are the top temperatures recorded in Britain on each of the past 32 days. The lowest reading was 78.4F (25.8C) on July 17, while the highest was 95.2F (35.1C) yesterday.
June 25: 86.2F (30.1C)
June 26: 87.4F (30.8C)
June 27: 89.4F (31.9C)
June 28: 91.4F (33C)
June 29: 90.5F (32.5C)
June 30: 85.1F (29.5C)
July 1: 90F (32.2C)
July 2: 88.2F (31.3C)
July 3: 86.2F (30.1C)
July 4: 84.4F (29.1C)
July 5: 88.6F (31.2C)
July 6: 88.5F (31.4C)
July 7: 88.7F (31.5C)
July 8: 90.3F (32.4C)
July 9: 86.9F (30.5C)
July 10: 79.3F (26.3C)
July 11: 81F (27.2C)
July 12: 79.7F (26.5C)
July 13: 82.6F (28.1C)
July 14: 85.3F (29.6C)
July 15: 87.4F (30.8C)
July 16: 88.7F (31.5C)
July 17: 78.4F (25.8C)
July 18: 80.2F (26.8C)
July 19: 84.3F (29.1C)
July 20: 83.1F (28.4C)
July 21: 84.4F (29.1C)
July 22: 85.6F (29.8C)
July 23: 91.9F (33.3C)
July 24: 88.5F (31.4C)
July 25: 89.6F (32C)
Yesterday: 95.2F (35.1C)