From The Washington Post (Jason Samenow):
Simultaneous heat waves scorched land areas all over the Northern Hemisphere last summer, killing hundreds and hospitalizing thousands while intensifying destructive and deadly wildfires.
A study published this week in the journal Earth’s Future concludes that this heat wave epidemic “would not have occurred without human-induced climate change.”
The alarming part? There are signs record-setting heat waves are beginning anew this summer — signaling, perhaps, that these exceptional and widespread heat spells are now the norm.
In the past few days, blistering, abnormal heat has afflicted several parts of the Northern Hemisphere, including major population centers.
New Delhi, India’s capital, soared to 118.4 degrees (48 Celsius) Monday, its highest temperature ever recorded in June. Some parts of India have seen the mercury eclipse 122 degrees (50 Celsius) in recent days, not far off the country’s all-time high.
On the other side of the hemisphere, the temperature in San Francisco shot up to 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius) Monday, its highest temperatures ever recorded in the months of June, July or August, or this early in the calendar year.
Heat spread unusually far north, even up into the northern reaches of Scandinavia. Mika Rantanen, a meteorologist at the University of Helsinki, tweeted last Friday that there “are no known cases in Finland’s climate history when it has been hotter than now so early in the summer.” Temperatures above 86 degrees (30 Celsius) penetrated inside the Arctic Circle, he noted.
A heat wave in Japan at the end of the May set scores of records, including the country’s highest temperature ever recorded in the month (103.1 degrees, or 39.5 Celsius). The oppressive conditions were blamed for five deaths and nearly 600 hospitalizations.
While some scientists hesitate to attribute individual heat spells to climate change, Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles, tweeted that his research suggests that we’ve “reached the point where a majority (perhaps a vast majority) of unprecedented extreme heat events globally have a detectable human influence.”