This Summer’s Heat Waves Could Be the Strongest Climate Signal Yet — Inside Climate News #ActOnClimate

Graphic credit: Inside Climate News (Paul Horn)

From Inside Climate News (Bob Berwyn):

There shouldn’t be any doubt that some of the deadliest of this summer’s disasters—including flooding in Japan and wildfires in Greece—are fueled by weather extremes linked to global warming, said Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.

“We know very well that global warming is making heat waves longer, hotter and more frequent,” she said.

“The evidence from having extreme events around the world is really compelling. It’s very indicative that the global warming background is causing or at least contributing to these events,” she said.

The challenges created by global warming are becoming evident even in basic infrastructure, much of which was built on the assumption of a cooler climate. In these latest heat waves, railroad tracks have bent in the rising temperatures, airport runways have cracked, and power plants from France to Finland have had to power down because their cooling sources became too warm.

“We’re seeing that many things are not built to withstand the heat levels we are seeing now,” Le Quéré said.

Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann said this summer’s extreme weather fits into a pattern he identified with other researchers in a study published last year. The jet stream’s north-south meanders have been unusually stationary, leading to persistent heat waves and droughts in some areas and days of rain and flooding in others, he said. “Our work last year shows that this sort of pattern … has become more common because of human-caused climate change, and in particular, amplified Arctic warming.”


Temperatures in Algeria reached 124 degrees Fahrenheit, setting a record for the African continent. A few weeks earlier, a city in Oman is believed to have broken a global record when it went more than 24 hours with temperatures never falling below 108 degrees. Japan set a national record of 106 amid a heat wave that has been blamed for more than 80 deaths.

Regional western heat events are becoming so pronounced that some climate scientists see the current extremes in the U.S. as a climate inflection point, where the global warming signal stands out above the natural background of climate variability.

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