Record-Shattering Heatwaves Caused By Pace Of Warming, Says Study.

Record-Shattering Heatwaves Caused By Pace Of Warming, Says Study

Study suggest that humanity is likely to see a lot more deadly scorchers in the coming decades (File)

Paris:

Heatwaves that obliterate temperature records as in western Canada last month and Siberia last year are caused by the rapid pace, rather than the amount, of global warming, researchers said Monday.

The findings, reported in Nature Climate Change, suggest that humanity is likely to see a lot more deadly scorchers in the coming decades.

"Because we are in a period of very rapid warming, we need to prepare for more heat events that shatter previous records by large margins," head author Erich Fischer, a senior scientist at ETH Zurich and a lead author of the UN climate science assessment currently under review, told AFP.

The heatwave that ravaged British Columbia saw temperatures hit 49.6 degrees Celsius (121 Fahrenheit), more than five degrees above the hottest day recorded in Canada up to that point.

Current rates of warming -- about 0.2 degrees Celsius per decades -- are likely to continue for at least another 10 to 20 years no matter how quickly humanity reduces the carbon pollution that drives global heating, the study warns.

But efforts to curb greenhouse gases over the next decade will pay off later.

"The future probability of record-shattering extremes depends on the emissions pathway that gets us to a given level of warming," Fischer said.

Up to now, research on how global warming will affect heatwaves has focused mostly on how much temperatures have risen compared to some reference period rather than on how quickly.

That is, of course, critically important, and the science has shown without a doubt that a warmer world will produce more and hotter heatwaves.

But not taking into account how quickly temperatures rise fails to capture a key part of the picture.

Climate on steroids

"Without climate change, one would expect record temperatures to become rarer the longer we measure," Fischer explained.

Likewise, if average global temperatures stabilise -- at, say, 1.5 degrees Celsius above mid-19th century levels, the aspirational target of the Paris Agreement -- dramatic new records would progressively become less frequent.

Fischer compares it to track and field, where the longer a discipline exists, the harder it is top a world record. The long and high jump records, for example, have stood for decades, or are only ever surpassed by a centimetre or two.

But if athletes start taking performance-enhancing drugs, as happened in US baseball during the late 1990s, records are suddenly broken often and by a lot.

"The climate currently behaves like an athlete on steroids," Fischer said.

At current rates of greenhouse gas emissions, the world is on track to continue warming at current rates to more than 3C by 2100.

"This is a very important study," commented Tim Palmer, a research professor at the University of Oxford who was not involved in the findings.

But climate models with far higher resolution -- like a camera with 64 mega-pixels rather than 16 -- are needed to simulate the monster heatwaves observed the world over the last 20 years.

"This new study shines a valuable spotlight on the high potential for record-shattering extremes," including the kind of extreme rainfall that ravaged Germany and China earlier this month, noted Rowan Sutton, a professor at the University of Reading's National Centre for Atmospheric Science, in Britain.

"Whilst it may not seem rapid to us, Earth is warming at a rate that is unprecedented in the history of human civilisation."

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV News

NDTV.com provides latest news from India and the world. Get today’s news headlines from Business, Technology, Bollywood, Cricket, videos, photos, live news coverage and exclusive breaking news from India.

https://www.ndtv.com/

Related news
A rush to judgment - Digital Original

A rush to judgment - Digital Original

Racial justice activists rushed to judge the championship basketball team of Coronado, CA as racist, but are they really? Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encomp...

Who should get Pfizer's COVID booster shots?

Who should get Pfizer's COVID booster shots?

A CDC panel is meeting to determine who will qualify for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. On Wednesday, the FDA authorized it for people ages 65 and over and others at higher risk. CBS News' Natalie Brand reports. Then Dr. Amesh Adalja, se...

Is Boris Johnson right that it's easy to go green?

Is Boris Johnson right that it's easy to go green?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told world leaders that Kermit the Frog was “wrong” when he sang ‘It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green’, adding it’s “easy" and "right to be green”. But is the prime minister right? Joycelyn Longdon, founder of Climate in Col...

How should children learn about climate change?

How should children learn about climate change?

Executive director of Climate Imperative, Bruce Nilles says it's "critical" that we help to explain the science of climate change to children. Plus, founder of Climate in Colour Joycelyn Longdon, explains how we can alleviate climate anxiety for c...

Congressman Andy Levin criticizes Biden administration's response to migrant camp.

Congressman Andy Levin criticizes Biden administration's response to migrant camp.

The Biden administration's special envoy to Haiti resigned following the expulsions of Haitian migrants to their home country. Thousands of migrants have been camping under a bridge on the southern border in Texas for several days, and the White H...

Conspirituality: How Wellness Became a Gateway for Misinformation - CBSN Originals.

Conspirituality: How Wellness Became a Gateway for Misinformation - CBSN Originals.

The wellness community has long embraced alternative approaches to health. But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the combination of a quest for answers, distrust of mainstream souces, influencers co-opting conspiratorial phrases and hashtags, and...