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Climate change made Siberian heatwave 600 times more likely – study

16 July 2020 | Adaptation

 

The record-breaking heatwave in the Siberian Arctic was made at least 600 times more likely by human-caused climate change, according to a study.

Between January and June, temperatures in the far north of Russia were more than 5C above average, causing permafrost to melt, buildings to collapse, and sparking an unusually early and intense start to the forest fires season. On 20 June, a monitoring station in Verkhoyansk registered a record high of 38C.

An attribution study shows such prolonged heat over the first six months of the year would have been almost impossible without the effect of greenhouse gas emissions from industry, transport and farming.

The team of researchers from international universities and meteorological services, including the PP Shirshov Institute of Oceanology in the Russian Academy of Science, calculated this human impact added at least 2C of warming to the region.

The authors of the study say the Siberian heat would happen less than once in every 80,000 years without human interference.

Andrew Ciavarella, a lead author of the research and senior detection and attribution scientist at the Met Office, said the findings were staggering. “This research is further evidence of the extreme temperatures we can expect to see more frequently around the world in a warming global climate. Importantly, an increasing frequency of these extreme heat events can be moderated by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Scientists say the human fingerprint has rarely, if ever, been clearer. “This is the largest signal we have seen,” said Friederike Otto, the acting director of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute and a co-lead of the World Weather Attribution initiative. “This study shows again just how much of a game-changer climate change is with respect to heatwaves. As emissions continue to rise, we need to think about building resilience to extreme heat all over the world, even in Arctic communities – which would have seemed nonsensical not very long ago.”

 

Source: The Guardian