Climate Change Blamed for Western Europe’s Heat Wave in Attribution Research

Attribution research: Heat wave in Western Europe is due to climate change

The recent extreme weather events in Europe have been causing problems for holidaymakers. The western Mediterranean countries had an extraordinary heat wave at the end of April, with temperatures up to 20 degrees Celsius above normal. The heat wave exacerbated the already present water shortage due to several years of drought. Farmers pumped water from wells, some illegally, onto fields and into greenhouses, where strawberries and tomatoes were produced for export – even to Germany. Such weather events were found to be a hundred times more likely due to global warming, according to attribution research conducted by researchers from Morocco, France, the Netherlands, the USA, and the UK. Heatwaves are one of the deadliest dangers, and their full effects are often not known until weeks afterward, after scientists have analyzed the excess deaths.

Heat-related deaths decreased in cities with heat-adapted planning, where the urban heat island effect was reduced by green and open spaces. Early warning systems for heat also helped city dwellers adapt in a timely manner. In contrast, May brought extreme rainstorms to eastern northern Italy and Croatia. Parched ground, hard as concrete, could not retain the much-needed water, leading to half-yearly rainfall in the span of 36 hours. Global warming is predicted to increase extreme precipitation events, as warmer air stores more water.

The worst of the flood region in Italy seems to be over, but there may be heavy rain in other parts of Italy. As a powerful Mediterranean low moves toward the Tyrrhenian Sea, it is hoped that parched Spain will also receive some of the much-needed precipitation. Without water, there is no life, but too much of it can be just as deadly as too little.

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