How climate change is intensifying this summer’s extreme weather

From sweeping floods in the Midwest to brutal heat waves in Europe, weather conditions all over the world are intensifying. Every summer seems like a record, and experts expect this year to be no different. Currently, scientists point to climate change as the cause. Here’s everything you need to know:

How is climate change different from normal weather?

Climate change is the change of average temperature and weather conditions found in some parts of the world. Unlike weather, which is the constant day-to-day change you can see when you go outside, climate is the average change over a long period of time.

Why does this happen?

A few natural events that can impact climate are Earth’s distance from the sun, ocean changes, and volcanic eruptions. However, many climatologists believe these alone “cannot explain the rapid rise in global temperature” and there is evidence to suggest that humans have played a larger role in climate change, The New York Times reports.

During the Industrial Revolution, people started burning more fossil fuels, adding additional greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. “The world has already warmed to between 1.1 and 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial average,” writes The Washington Post. If countries continue on this path of overproducing fossil fuels, the future will be even hotter.

This increase in temperature will cause a domino effect of natural disasters. “We can’t take a punch from just one of these hazards, forget about three or four simultaneously,” said Camilo Mora, a climatologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who studies cascading disasters. Job. “The idea that we can keep emitting greenhouse gases and adapt later just doesn’t make sense.” His research indicates that by 2100, parts of the world could experience up to six climate-related disasters simultaneously, that is, if humans do not rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

How do heat waves affect the world?

For many places, summer has come early. The Midwest kicked off its summer with a heat wave in May. At the same time, in another part of the world, Spain was experiencing its “hottest heat wave on record so early in the year”, reaching temperatures of 104 and 110 degrees, writes The Washington Post. It doesn’t stop there, as many countries brace for a series of extreme weather conditions in the weeks and months ahead.

“Summer has become the dangerous season where you see these kinds of events happening earlier, more frequently and happening simultaneously,” said Rachel Licker, senior climatologist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a research group and advocacy. Job. “It just shows you how vulnerable our infrastructure is and that it’s going to get more and more problematic.”

Regions like the United States and Europe are expected to experience temperatures around 10 to 20 degrees above average this summer.

Rising temperatures also mean faster snowmelt. Earlier this month, Italy experienced a deadly avalanche as rising temperatures melted glaciers, Axios reports. Add precipitation and you also get situations like Montana and Wyoming, which are dealing with catastrophic flooding. Similarly, on Monday around 30,000 residents in Australia (where it is winter) were told to evacuate as they expect their “fourth wave of flooding in less than a year and a half”, writes PA News.

Through heat wave statistics and analysis, scientists are able to measure how climate change is affecting heat waves in certain regions. Michael Wehner, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, analyzed the most extreme heat waves, such as the one that took place in 2021 around Canada and the Pacific Northwest. “It was practically impossible without climate change,” Wehner tells NPR.

Why is it important?

If we don’t act on climate change, our summers will look very different. “Humans quickly adapt to these kinds of events and they become normal to us instead of seeing what’s going on,” said Alexis Bonogofsky, a sheep herder and program manager for the World Wildlife Fund. Job. “We’re going to see these forms of natural disasters more frequently, and hopefully at some point people will realize what’s going on and start addressing the root cause.”

It is predicted that by the end of the century it will be too hot and unbearable “to go outside during heat waves in the Middle East and South Asia”. Extreme droughts will limit agricultural production and raise prices, and many places as we know them – parts of Texas and Bangladesh, for example – will disappear due to rising sea levels.

Unfortunately, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and it’s rapidly melting.