(ORDO NEWS) — An analysis of the record high temperatures showed that climate change has increased the likelihood of a prolonged heat wave this year 600 times. Scientists have come to the conclusion that the abnormal heat that has engulfed a significant part of Siberia would have been impossible without human influence on the climate.
Scientists analyzed two episodes of extreme heat in Siberia, one of which was long and the other much shorter. The first example is the overall temperature rise in Siberia from January to June, which exceeded the average temperatures recorded in the region from 1951 to 1980 by more than 9 degrees Fahrenheit. The second example is the astonishing sharp rise in temperature recorded on June 20, as a result of which the temperature in the Russian city of Verkhoyansk rose to 38 degrees Celsius – according to the Russian meteorological service, this became an absolute temperature record for the Arctic.
After analyzing the data, scientists concluded that climate change has increased the likelihood of prolonged heat waves 600 times compared with what it would have been in the absence of climate change. In a statement, Andrew Ciavarella, lead author of the study and senior scientist at the UK‘s National Weather Service, called the results “truly stunning.”
In fact, as said Friederike Otto, acting director of the Institute for Environmental Change at the University of Oxford and one of the authors of this study, “without climate change, we would not have seen an episode like this.”
In a world free of climate change, prolonged heat waves would occur in Siberia less than once every 80,000 years – “this is not something you would take into account or expect to see in your lifetime,” Otto said. Even under current climatic conditions, such prolonged heat waves should occur less than once every 130 years.
In this study, scientists from universities and public meteorological services in Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom are applying the techniques of the rapidly evolving attribution science, which means they use computer models and a huge amount of data to determine to what extent a particular weather phenomenon was caused by human activities, as a result of which a greenhouse gas enters the atmosphere, provoking a warming of the climate. As part of this research initiative, called World Weather Attribution, scientists have found human footprints in disasters such as wildfires in Australia and heavy downpours after Hurricane Harvey.
The results of the study of the weather in Siberia have yet to undergo expert verification.
The heat in Siberia provoked unusual and sometimes terrible phenomena, such as forest fires, the invasion of mosquitoes and the melting of permafrost, which causes the destruction of infrastructure – it was the subsidence of the supports under one of the tanks that caused the spill of 140 thousand barrels of diesel fuel, which spread around the area and got into the river. And as a result of forest fires in Siberia, more greenhouse gases have entered the Earth‘s atmosphere than in any other month in 18 years of observation.
Zeke Hausfather, a climatologist at the Breakthrough Institute think tank who was not involved in the study, said his findings highlight the changes in the frequency of extreme weather events that are caused by a changing climate. “What a century ago happened once every 100 years, now happens every 20 or even 10 years,” he said. While the heat in Siberia is unusual today, if greenhouse gas emissions do not diminish, he said this summer’s temperature nightmare will turn into “a familiar summer in Siberia” by the end of this century.
In the absence of climate change, the average temperature in Siberia during extended heatwaves would have been at least 2 degrees Celsius lower – that is, if it had happened in 1900, not today. By 2050, scientists say, the average temperature rise for extended heatwaves in Siberia compared to 1900 will be 4.15-12.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
If we consider the sharp rise in temperature in Verkhoyansk on June 20, then, according to scientists, it was difficult for them to calculate the degree of climate change impact with the same high statistical reliability as in the case of prolonged heat waves. However, they emphasized that the likelihood of a one-day temperature rise was thousands of times higher than the probability of such an event in the absence of climate change.
During a press conference on the study’s findings on Tuesday July 14th, Sarah F. Kew of the Royal Meteorological Institute of the Netherlands said the data analysis for Siberia was “one of the most compelling results of attributive research to date”.
Unless decisive action is taken to combat climate change, she said, “we will have very little time to stabilize global warming” at the level called for by the Paris Climate Agreement, which calls for a global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius compared to the beginning of the industrial era.
In a statement, Dr Ciavarella said: “This study is yet another testament to the temperature extremes that we will increasingly see around the world in the face of global warming. Importantly, the increasing frequency of these heat waves can be contained by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
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