Hot Century Ahead: Study Finds Onslaught of Heat Waves Now Inevitable
Report comes as North Asia temperature spike kills dozens in the midst of a blistering summer
- Sarah Lazare, staff writer
A new study dishes out some very bad news about the global warming crisis.
It is too late to stop a "several folds" increase of deadly heat waves caused by greenhouse gases—and the floods, fires, and storms they bring.
The report comes as a record heat wave hits North Asia, killing dozens and sickening far more, flooding hospitals with heatstroke victims amid power shortages that are cutting off air conditioning in some areas.Heat wave aerial view (Photo: severe-wx)
Published Thursday in the Environmental Research Letters, the study tracks trends in heat increases, finding that "3-sigma" heat wave events, in which climates are warmed to 3 times their normal temperature for over 3 weeks in a row, have been on the rise since the 1950s and today cover approximately 5 percent of the earth's land surface.
No amount of emissions mitigation can stop this frequency from doubling by the year 2020 and quadrupling by 2040, and by the latter year, extreme heat events will cover 20 percent of the globe. Furthermore, 5-sigma events, which do not occur presently, are expected to ravage 3 percent of the world's surface by 2040.
Study scientists claim that humanity's best hope is to stabilize heatwaves in the second half of the 21st century through an aggressive curb on greenhouse gases.