A recent heat wave in Siberia, where temperature records fell when the region swelled to 38 degrees Celsius, was “almost impossible” without the impact of man-made climate change, leading scientists said on Wednesday.
An international team of researchers found that the record-breaking warm period was more than 2 ° C hotter than if humans hadn’t warmed the planet through decades of greenhouse gas emissions.
The five hottest years in history have passed in the past five years, and there’s an above-average chance that 2020 will be the hottest ever recorded.
Earth’s poles heat up faster than the rest of the planet, and temperatures in Siberia – home to much of the world‘s carbon-rich permafrost – were more than 5 ° C hotter than average between January and June.
One city, Verkhoyansk, had a temperature of 38 ° C, breaking previous records.
Andrew Ciavarella, lead scientist for recognition and attribution at the British Met Office, described the results as “stunning”.
“This is further evidence of the extreme temperatures that we can expect more often in a warming climate worldwide,” he said.
The effects of climate change on extreme weather events such as super storms and droughts are now known, but until recently, scientists have not been able to definitively associate a single event with global warming.
As part of a growing area of climate research known as attribution science, the team conducted computer simulations of temperatures with today’s climate – about 1 ° C hotter than the pre-industrial baseline.
They then compared this to a model that generated temperatures over Siberia this year without human influence – i.e. without the additional artificial 1C.
They found that the sustained heat would occur less than once every 80,000 years without man-made climate change.
This makes the heatwave “almost impossible in a climate not warmed by greenhouse gas emissions,” the team said, adding that carbon pollution has made the extreme event at least 600 times more likely.
– ‘important for everyone’ –
The team behind the calculations emphasized that the Siberian heat wave was a problem for the entire globe.
Around 1.15 million hectares of forest that go up in flames release millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. At the same time, forest fires and persistent heat waves accelerated the region’s permafrost melt.
As a result, an oil tank built on frozen ground collapsed in May, resulting in one of the worst oil spills in the region.
“Such a sustained heat wave is important not only for its impact on people, but also from a scientific point of view,” said Olga Zolina of the Russian P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanography.
“The Arctic is generally very, very important for the formation of weather and circulation. So such high temperatures are really important for the entire globe.”
While the research was compiled quickly and had not yet been peer reviewed, the authors said it was “one of the strongest results of any attribution study done to date”.
– ‘No chance’ –
The 2015 Paris climate agreement obliges nations to limit the temperature to “significantly below” 2 ° C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels and, if possible, to target a limit of 1.5 ° C.
With only 1 ° C warming, the earth is already affected by record-breaking droughts, forest fires and super storms, which are exacerbated by the rise in sea level.
To achieve the 1.5 C target, global emissions have to decrease by 7.6 percent each year this decade, according to the United Nations.
Sonia Seneviratne from the Institute for Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zurich said that research has shown that the heat wave is an example of “extreme events that would have no chance without artificial emissions”.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)