Climate change made UK heat wave at least 10 times more likely
- Human-caused climate change made UK heat record 10 times more likely, study says.
- This heat wave study was conducted by World Weather Attribution.
- Estimates point to hundreds of heat-related deaths due to the extreme heat
The all-time record high temperature in the United Kingdom, which was set earlier this month as readings soared to a staggering 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit, was made 10 times more likely because of human-caused climate change, according to a study released Thursday.
Scientists said this is a conservative estimate since extreme temperatures in Western Europe have risen more than climate models simulate.
“In Europe and other parts of the world, we are seeing more and more record-breaking heat waves causing extreme temperatures that have become hotter faster than in most climate models,” study co-author Friederike Otto of Imperial College London said.
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“It’s a worrying finding that suggests that if carbon emissions are not rapidly cut, the consequences of climate change on extreme heat in Europe, which already is extremely deadly, could be even worse than we previously thought,” Otto said.
On July 15, for the first time on record, the U.K. Met Office, Britain’s national weather service, issued an extreme heat warning. In the following days, many weather stations across the country recorded their highest-ever temperatures, in many cases breaking previous records by several degrees.
U.K.’s highest temperature ever recorded
On July 19, the Met Office announced that a temperature of 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit (40.3 Celsius) was recorded at Coningsby in eastern England. That was the highest temperature ever recorded in the U.K., the Met Office said.
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The previous record high temperature in the U.K. was 101.7 degrees in 2019, according to the Met Office.
While the precise number of casualties will not be available for several weeks, estimates
point to hundreds of heat-related deaths from the extreme heat, the World Weather Attribution group said in a news release.
Heat is the deadliest weather extreme
“Heat waves are the deadliest type of extreme weather event in Europe, killing thousands each year,” said Roop Singh of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center. “But they don’t have to be. Many of these deaths are preventable if adequate adaptation plans are in place. Without rapid and comprehensive adaptation and emissions cuts, the situation will only get worse.”
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This heat wave study was conducted by World Weather Attribution, an international collaboration that analyzes and communicates the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events, such as storms, extreme rainfall, heat waves, cold spells and droughts.