FunNature & AnimalHuman activities are driving increasingly extreme heat waves

Human activities are driving increasingly extreme heat waves

It seems that our activities are going to irremediably change the way we live.

In a recent study by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, experts report that human-caused emissions are at least partly to blame for last year’s temperature rise in the US and Canada that killed 1,500 people . “An unprecedented and extraordinary heat wave swept across western North America in late June 2021, leading to hundreds of deaths and mass die-offs of marine creatures off the coast, as well as horrific wildfires,” the report said. Study co-author Chunzai Wang.

Many studies have shown that heat waves have increased in frequency by a factor of 100 or more due to human-caused climate change, and they are also, by a very wide margin, the deadliest extreme weather events in Europe.

The responsible? The humans

Greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric patterns seem to be the main culprits. “In this paper, we study the physical processes of internal variability, such as atmospheric circulation patterns, and external forcing, such as anthropogenic greenhouse gases ,” the expert explained.

Using computer models, the researchers found three circulation patterns that coincided during the 2021 heat wave: the North Pacific pattern, the Canadian Arctic-Pacific, and the North American pattern.

“The North Pacific pattern and Canada’s Arctic-Pacific pattern coincided with the developing and mature phases of the heat wave, while the North American pattern coincided with the declining and eastward motions of the heat wave. of heat,” Wang said. ” This suggests that the heat wave originated in the North Pacific and Arctic, while the North American pattern marked the beginning of the heat wave.”

Experts found that greenhouse gas emissions from humans played a major role in causing last year’s heat waves. Based on model simulations, the researchers are confident that the number of severe heat waves will increase by more than 30 percent , with greenhouse gases causing nearly two-thirds of that increase.

“If appropriate measures are not taken, the probability of occurrence of extreme heat waves will increase and further affect the ecological balance, as well as sustainable social and economic development,” the authors conclude.

Reference: Wang, C., Zheng, J., Lin, W. et al. Unprecedented Heatwave in Western North America during Late June of 2021: Roles of Atmospheric Circulation and Global Warming. Adv. Atmos. Sci. (2022).

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