‘Record-shattering’ heat becoming much more likely, says climate study
"Record-shattering" heatwaves, even worse than the one that recently hit north-west America, are set to become much more likely in future, according to research. One illustrative heatwave produced by the computer models used in the study showed some locations in mid-northern America having temperatures 18C higher than average. Scientists already know that heatwaves of the kind mostly seen today will become more common as the climate crisis unfolds. The new computing modelling study instead looked for the first time at the highest margins by which week-long heatwave records could be broken in future. It found that heatwaves that smash previous records by roughly 5C would become two to seven times more likely in the next three decades and three to 21 times more likely from 2051-2080, unless carbon emissions are immediately slashed. The study also showed that record-shattering events could come in sharp bursts, rather than gradually becoming more frequent. If emissions start falling immediately and rapidly, the study showed, the risk of record-shattering extremes is cut by about 80%. "With Cop26 looming, we must hope that policymakers use evidence like this to show the need for global emissions reductions," Thompson said.