Heatwave was triggered by climate change, new research reports

The sweltering weather experienced across Europe this summer is a direct result of climate change, according to new research. The temperatures could be a sign of things to come.  

Climate change more than doubled the likelihood of the European heatwave, with the weather regarded as unusually warm set to become commonplace.

These are the findings of new research published by Oxford University in collaboration with the World Weather Attribution Network.

The research compared current temperatures with historical records at seven weather stations in northern Europe – two in Finland and one each in Denmark, the Irish Republic, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

For each year in the historical record, the research team looked at the hottest consecutive three-day period. For 2018, it was the hottest three days of the year so far – either observed or in the short-term forecast.

“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,” commented Dr Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, senior researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), in a statement.

For three stations further south – in the Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland – the historical record showed that climate change has generally increased the odds of the current heatwave more than two-fold, according to Dr van Oldenborgh.

The team highlighted that the report was based on preliminary analysis, and the definition of the period as an “extreme event” was based on forecast temperatures rather than actual quantitative results.

However, the team say the potential environmental and social implications of the findings are undeniable and that action should be taken sooner rather than later.

Photo credit: Phil Norton/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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