Heat records far exceed cold records around the world

Heat records far exceed cold records around the world

The U.S. had recorded 92 all-time record high temperatures as of July 16, compared to just five all-time lows, according to data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Globally, 188 all-time heat records have been broken versus 18 cold records.
Studies have shown that extreme heat will increase in frequency, intensity and duration due to the climate crisis. Gabriel Vecchi, a climate scientist at Princeton University, told CNN that the imbalance between hot and cold is a signal of the climate crisis, and scientists have noticed a trend of hot extremes overtaking cold in recent years.

“This is what one would expect from planetary warming, which is driven in large part by greenhouse gases; this is the world we live in now,” Vecchi told CNN, noting that “you can assume that almost every heat wave that we’re seeing now has some impact from global warming.”

All-time records threatened to tumble in the UK on Monday and Tuesday, with temperatures 10 to 15 degrees Celsius (up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal for this time of year.

Britain’s Met Office warned on Monday that highs could be approaching 40 degrees Celsius (about 104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time – a prediction that prompted meteorologists there last week to issue a “red” heat warning for the first time ever. That forecast would break the record for the UK’s hottest temperature ever – 38.7 degrees Celsius. The Met Office reported that Monday saw Wales endure its hottest day ever and Scotland risked seeing its own.
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Further south, where the heat has been entrenched for more than a week, at least 1,000 people have died from heat-related illnesses so far in Portugal and Spain. Temperatures in Spain soared to over 45 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit) during the nearly week-long heatwave.

And across the US on Monday, more than 40 million people from North Dakota to Texas, where high temperatures are expected to soar into the 90s and 100s, were treated amid heat warnings and advisories. Dozens of temperature records could be broken over the course of the week, meteorologists have warned.

Global scientists concluded last year that the effects of the climate crisis are getting worse with every fraction of a degree of warming. While extreme heat events would occur even without climate change, the increasing intensity and frequency of these events in recent decades have been linked to increases in emissions from fossil fuels and observed global warming.

Imagine a bell-shaped temperature curve, Vecchi said, with cold on the left and warm on the right. As climate change shifts this temperature curve to the warmer side, the long tails of the curve rise by a proportionally greater amount than the middle, indicating the increasing likelihood of hotter events and making cold events less likely.

Vecchi said the heatwave in Europe is notable because it occurs sequentially and will only continue as the planet warms, giving one more reason to prepare for a hotter future.

Although this year is not yet the hottest on record, despite the South Asian heatwave in May and another heat dome in Europe, this year remains warmer than historical epochs, which Vecchi says is “due in large part to increases in greenhouse gases from combustion fossil fuels.”

“It’s been a year of warmth,” he said. “And these are the signatures of global warming.”

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