Climate MattersJuly 2, 2015

European Heat Wave & Climate Change

European Heat Wave & Climate Change
european heatwave

The ongoing heatwave gripping large parts of Europe is breaking all-time monthly temperature records for cities, as well as countries. It's creating health, infrastructure, and economic impacts, as well as coinciding with two big time sporting events: Wimbledon and the Tour de France.

Our newly launched World Weather Attribution (WWA) team analyzed the role climate change played in this specific heat wave. The global WWA team includes Oxford University, KNMI, University of Melbourne, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, and Climate Central. For this analysis, regional partners included CNRS and MeteoSwiss. Using observational data, weather forecasts and climate models, the team says it is virtually certain that climate change increased the likelihood of the ongoing heatwave stretching across much of Europe.

To learn more about these findings and access TV-ready graphics, visit this page.

Background

The World Weather Attribution program is meant to accelerate extreme event attribution analyses. Climate science now allows us to assess whether, and to what extent, climate change impacted the likelihood of a particular extreme. However, such analyses now often appear only months after the event (such as in the annual BAMS special issue) The WWA team is aiming to do this much quicker, while still using multiple peer-reviewed approaches (both observations and models).

We did a somewhat similar analysis on the record heat in Europe during 2014 (our results for that analysis were subsequently published in Environmental Research Letters).