Sahara Desert winds blasted Europe in June, especially during a five-day heatwave that set many records. Between that and weather elsewhere, June was not only one of the hottest ever for that continent, but also for the world as a whole.
In Europe, the average temperature was about 5 degrees Fahrenheit above the June average of a century ago. The global temperature was nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit higher.
The European heatwave broke temperature records in France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Spain. A temperature above 114 degrees was recorded near the French city of Nîmes.
The intense heat lead to wildfires in Spain and Germany, and widespread disruption across Europe. Undoubtedly, the heatwave has caused many premature deaths, but it will take some time to compile those statistics. The European heatwave of 2003 caused more than 70,000 premature deaths.
According to calculations by climate scientists, the record-breaking heatwave in June was made at least 5 and as much as 100 times more likely by climate change. Global heating caused by the carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities means that heatwaves are becoming more probable and severe. So-called attribution studies estimate how much more likely and severe such events are.
The researchers used temperature records stretching back to 1901 to assess the probability of a heatwave last month and in the past. They also examined climate change models to assess the impact of global heating. More than 230 attribution studies to date around the world have found that 95% of heatwaves were made more likely or worse by climate change.
It was the hottest June on record in Europe by a country mile and there are likely to be more months like it in the future.
Climate Change Made Last Month’s European Heatwave At Least Five Times More Likely
Photo, posted February 13, 2018, courtesy of Guilhem Vellut via Flickr.
Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.