Climate change has made extreme summer drought 20 times more likely

(ORDO NEWS) — Catastrophic droughts like the one that swept across three continents this summer and dried up large parts of Europe, the US and China used to happen every 400 years, according to new research from World Weather Attribution.

Now, due to climate change, such a drought will have to be experienced once every 20 years. The drought in 2022 was the worst on record. But she’s not the last

The drought in the summer of 2022 brought real disasters. Large rivers dried up, crops burned down, forest fires broke out. Many species of river dwellers have been endangered. In Europe, restrictions on the use of water have been introduced.

The drought hit not only the arid west of the United States, but also the Northeast, where droughts almost never occur. In China, it was the driest summer in 60 years. As a result, the famous Yangtze River was reduced to half its normal width.

Researchers at World Weather Attribution and an international team of scientists studying the relationship between extreme weather and climate change have modeled that such a drought would only occur once every 400 years in the Northern Hemisphere were it not for anthropogenic climate change.

They now expect these conditions to repeat every 20 years given how much the climate has warmed.

Environmental disasters such as the widespread drought and then massive floods in Pakistan are “fingerprints of climate change,” says Martin van Aelst, a climate scientist at Columbia University and co-author of the study.

“The consequences are clear, and they hit hard not only in poor countries like Pakistan, but also in some of the richer countries of the world like Western and Central Europe.”

Models and estimates

Climate change has made extreme summer drought 20 times more likely 2
Yangtze, China, August 2022

To find out the impact of climate change on drought in the Northern Hemisphere, the scientists analyzed weather data, computer simulations and soil moisture in all but the tropical regions. They found that climate change has made soil drying out more likely.

This analysis was done using a model of climate warming that has already happened: global temperatures have risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era.

But climatologists warned the authors of the model that the climate had already become somewhat warmer, and the authors of the study taught this. According to calculations, a drought like the summer of 2022 will occur at today’s global temperature once every 20 years.

According to Dominik Schumacher, a climatologist at ETH Zurich, a university in Switzerland, with a warming of another 0.8 degrees Celsius, such a drought will occur in the western part of Central Europe once every 10 years, and in some countries of the Northern Hemisphere every year.

“We are seeing this cumulative and cascading effect across sectors and regions,” van Aelst said. “One way to reduce that impact is to cut emissions.”

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