Severe drought in the northern hemisphere ‘almost impossible’ without climate change


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Drought across the northern hemisphere this summer – which scorched soilAnd the rivers dried up raised mass crop failure A new analysis has found that it is at least 20 times more likely to happen because of the climate crisis.

The research, published Wednesday by the World Weather Attribution Initiative, found that without the climate crisis, the drought that hit parts of North America, Asia and Europe this summer would historically be a one event in 400 years — meaning it was a drought event that was so severe that it It will only be seen once every 400 years on average.

But scientists have found that global warming caused by burning fossil fuels has caused a drought of this magnitude to occur for 1 in 20 years.

The analysis also found that this summer’s high temperatures, which contributed to droughts and killed tens of thousands of people across Europe and China, were “virtually impossible” without climate change.

The researchers used historical data, observations and scientific modeling, to compare conditions under today’s climate – which is about 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than it was before industrialization – with the climate before it, prior to the late 19th century.

The summer of 2022 in the Northern Hemisphere is a good example of how extreme events caused by climate change can also unfold in large areas over longer timescales. It also shows how the combination of many different changes in weather can damage our infrastructure and overburden our social systems,” Frederic Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London and one of the study’s authors, said in a statement.

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“In Europe, drought conditions have reduced yields. This was particularly worrisome, as it came on the heels of a heatwave fueled by climate change in South Asia that also destroyed crops, and occurred at a time when global food prices were already very high due to the war in Ukraine. “.

While most of the hemisphere has seen below-average rainfall this year, the analysis found that rising temperatures were the main driver behind the drought.

The scientists also note that their findings were conservative, and that “the real impact of human activities is likely to be higher” than what is stated in the report.

Across the Northern Hemisphere this summer, extreme temperatures and reduced precipitation have led to several unprecedented events: China issued its first-ever national drought warning; The United kingdom recorded its highest temperature ever; Europe Experienced the hottest summer. and the The water crisis intensified in the western United Statesresulting in new cuts in water use.

Besides the immediate danger to life, the intense summer heat posed serious threats to infrastructure, industry and food suppliesfueling an ongoing cost-of-living crisis in many affected areas.

Europe was already fighting supply geopolitical shocks. This climate shock has exacerbated the cost-of-living crisis, exacerbating the effects of the Ukraine war, said Martin van Aalst, one of the report’s authors and director of the Climate Center of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

“We are seeing the footprint of climate change not only in specific risks, but also in the cascade of impacts across sectors and regions,” Van Aalst said.

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Scientists are increasingly able to identify the link between the climate crisis and extreme weather events. They can also make forecasts more accurately.

The analysis found that the Northern Hemisphere can expect extreme temperatures – such as those seen this summer – much more frequently.

“This result also gives us insight into what’s on the horizon,” said Dominic Schumacher, a researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences at ETH in Zurich. “With increasing global warming, we can expect stronger and more frequent summer droughts in the future.”

In this case, the file water scarcityAnd the Forest firesAnd the Crop damageAnd the Food price hike And the running out of electricity With experience over the past few months it may become a common occurrence.

A worker walks along a dry field of sunflowers near Sacramento, California, in August.

The study follows not only a summer of severe weather, but also a devastating season of hurricanes and hurricanes. The death toll from Hurricane Ian in the United States exceeded 100. Typhoon Noro recently hit the Philippines, after rapidly intensifying from the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane to a Category 5 hurricane in about six hours.

In November, world leaders will meet in Egypt COP27, the United Nations Climate Change ConferenceThis year, extreme weather events are likely to add to the urgency of discussions.

“We need to phase out fossil fuel burning if we are to stabilize weather conditions and avoid further deterioration of these drought events, which will become more frequent and more severe with any further increase in global warming,” said Sonia Seneviratne, a professor at ETH Zurich.

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