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Climate change: Heatwave virtually impossible without warming

Science desk || shiningbd

Published: 16:43, 8 July 2021   Update: 16:44, 8 July 2021
Climate change: Heatwave virtually impossible without warming

The searing heat that scorched western Canada and the US at the end of June was "virtually impossible" without climate change, say scientists.

In their study, the team of researchers says that the deadly heatwave was a one-in-a-1,000-year event.

But we can expect extreme events such as this to become more common as the world heats up due to climate change.

If humans hadn't influenced the climate to the extent that they have, the event would have been 150 times less likely.

Scientists worry that global heating, largely as a result of burning fossil fuels, is now driving up temperatures faster than models predict.

Climate researchers have grown used to heatwaves breaking records all over the world in recent years. However, beating the previous national high temperature mark by 10% in one go, as happened in Canada last week, is virtually unprecedented.

Canada's previous national record for high temperature was 45C - but the recent heat in the village of Lytton in British Columbia saw a figure of 49.6C recorded at the height of the event.

This was shortly before the village itself was largely destroyed by a wildfire.

All across the region, in the US states of Oregon and Washington and in the west of Canada, multiple cities hit new records far above 40C.

These temperatures had deadly consequences for hundreds of people, with spikes in sudden deaths and big increases in hospital visits for heat-related illness.

Since the start of the heatwave, people have linked the unusual and extreme nature of the event to climate change.

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