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Deadly heat in India and Pakistan is “very unlikely” without climate change

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CLIMATEWIRE | A heat wave in India and Pakistan last month caused temperatures to rise above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and still before early summer. Now scientists say climate change has helped make shocking weather possible.

A new analysis finds that global warming has made the heat wave at least 30 times more likely. The event was about 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 F, warmer than it would have been in a world without climate change.

Without the impact of global warming, “this event was very, very unlikely,” study co-author Arpita Mondal, a climatologist at the Indian Institute of Technology, told a news conference yesterday.

The findings were published by the World Weather Attribution research consortium, which specializes in the science of attribution – research that examines the links between climate change and individual weather phenomena. Since its founding in 2014, the group has published dozens of analyzes of climate-related disasters, including floods, hurricanes, droughts and extreme heat.

Earlier this month, the WWA published a study of extreme rainfall and catastrophic floods in South Africa last month, concluding that climate change has made them more likely and more intense (ClimatewireMay 16).

Most analyzes use the standard method. They collect historical climate data from the region and conduct two types of modeling using climate models: one representing the present and the other a hypothetical world without human-induced climate change. These simulations help demonstrate how warming affected the likelihood or intensity of a given event.

The recent heat has become the main target of the investigation. The heat not only reached a punitive limit, but also began unusually early in the year and lasted for several weeks.

“What was particularly exceptional or particularly unusual about this wave of heat is how early it started,” said study co-author Frederick Otto, a climatologist at Imperial College London and WWA co-author. “Basically, it’s been hot since early March.”

Sher Rehman, Pakistan’s climate minister, said last month that a “spring-free year” had passed in the region.

The heat has been linked to at least 90 deaths in India and Pakistan so far, and experts say it is likely an underestimation.

The WWA study is at least second to this event. Last week the UK Meteorological Office published Fr. a similar analysisconcluding that climate change has made a heat wave at least 100 times more likely.

Several other methods were used in this analysis and relied on only one model compared to a set of 20 WWA. But the Meteorological Bureau’s findings still fall within the range of uncertainty of the WWA’s findings – they don’t really contradict each other. In fact, due to data limitations, the WWA’s assessment is probably on the conservative side.

“Both show that climate change is really changing the game when it comes to these kinds of heat,” Otto said. “This is the main message that needs to be delivered.”

And it will probably get worse.

Although climate change has already made such an event at least 30 times more likely, the risk will increase even higher as temperatures continue to rise. The world has already warmed by about 1 C. And with a warming of one degree of similar events will be even more. The odds can jump 2 to 20 times.

The study emphasizes the importance of both adapting to rising heat and working to stop global warming as soon as possible. Many cities around the world are studying heat action plans, including early warning systems for heat waves; cooling centers for people without access to air conditioning; and other adaptation efforts, such as expanding parks and green spaces, designed to reduce urban heat.

However, a co-author of Mondal said, “the root cause needs to be eliminated. If you don’t cut emissions globally, you will face this more and more often. This is the first reason that needs to be eliminated. “

Reprinted from E&E News courtesy of POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2022. E&E News provides important news for professionals in the field of energy and the environment.

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