Climate Change Worsened Britain’s Heat Wave, Scientists Find – The New York Times

by | Jul 28, 2022 | Climate Change

The heat that demolished records in Britain last week, bringing temperatures as high as 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit to a country unaccustomed to scorching summers, would have been “extremely unlikely” without the influence of human-caused climate change, a new scientific report issued Thursday has found.Heat of last week’s intensity is still highly unusual for Britain, even at current levels of global warming, said Mariam Zachariah, a research associate at Imperial College London and lead author of the new report. The chances of seeing the daytime highs that some parts of the country recorded last week were 1-in-1,000 in any given year, she and her colleagues found.Still, Dr. Zachariah said, those temperatures were at least 10 times as likely as they would have been in a world without greenhouse-gas emissions, and at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit hotter.“It’s still a rare event today,” said Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London and another author of the report. “It would have been an extremely unlikely event without climate change.”Severe heat has become more frequent and intense across most regions of the world, and scientists have little doubt that global warming is a key driver. As the burning of fossil fuels causes average global temperatures to rise, the range of possible temperatures shifts upward, too, making blistering highs more likely. This means every heat wave is now made worse, to some extent, by changes in planetary chemistry caused by greenhouse-gas emissions.Before last week, the highest temperature Britain had ever recorded was 101.7 Fahrenheit, or 38.7 Celsius, a milestone set in Cambridge in July 2019. This month, as temperatures climbed, the nation’s weather authority, the Met Office, warned Britons to brace for …

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