Western Mediterranean region witnesses “extreme” heatwave due to climate change: Study


New Delhi: Human caused “Climate Change” made a record -breaking heatwave, both in the Horn of Africa and the Western Mediterranean region, as per the new study.

The report said the climate change made record April temperature at least 100 times more likely in the Western Mediterranean, which was up to 3.5 °C average normal.

It said, a large area of South Western Europe and Northern Africa experienced extremely high temperatures at the end of April 2023, which usually only seen in July and August.

The study was conducted by 10 researchers as part of the World Weather Attribution group, including scientists from universities and meteorological agencies in France, Morocco, the Netherlands and the UK.

During the last week of April 2023 local temperatures in many regions in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Algeria were up to 20 degrees higher than normally at this time of year.

As per WHO in 2022 heatwaves contributed to nearly 4000 deaths in Spain and over 1000 deaths in Portugal.

Every year, an average of 262, 250, and 116 people die from heat-related illness in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, respectively.

Regarding the Horn of Africa, the report said that the “drought” was made much more severe because of the low rainfall and increased evaporation caused by higher temperatures in a world which is now nearly 1.2°C warmer than pre-industrial times.

“The intense heatwave came on top of a preexisting multi-year drought, exacerbating the lack of water in Western Mediterranean regions and threatening the 2023 crop yield. As the planet warms, these situations will become more frequent and call for long-term planning, including implementing sustainable agricultural models and effective water management policies, said Dr Fatima Driouech, Associate Professor at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University and a prominent expert on WMO’s technical climate commissions.

To quantify the effect of climate change on these high temperatures, scientists analysed weather data and computer model simulations to compare the climate as it is today, after about 1.2°C of global warming since the late 1800s, with the climate of the past.

The analysis looked at the average of the maximum temperature for three consecutive days in April across southern Spain and Portugal, most of Morocco and the northwest part of Algeria.

The researchers found that climate change made the heatwave at least 100 times more likely, with temperatures up to 3.5 °C hotter than they would have been without climate change.

“Our estimate of observed temperatures averaged over 3 days were estimated to have a return period of approximately 400 years (at least 60 years) in the current climate, meaning they have approximately a 0.25% chance of happening in any given year” it said.

“As other analyses of extreme heat in Europe have found, extreme temperatures are increasing faster in the region than climate models have predicted, a question that is currently under intense research. Until overall greenhouse gas emissions are halted, global temperatures will continue to increase and events like these will become more frequent and severe, ” said the researchers..

Researchers looked at whether human-induced climate change was a driver of the low rainfall, and also looked at the role of temperature.

We found that, as a result of human-induced climate change, the combination of low rainfall and high evapotranspiration as unusual as the recent conditions would not have led to drought at all in a 1.2°C cooler world.

“Climate change has made events like the current drought much stronger and more likely; a conservative estimate is that such droughts have become about 100 times more likely,” said the World Weather Attribution scientists.

The study mentioned that the early heatwaves and associated drought conditions also threaten the yield for many crops such as wheat, because it hinders grain filling.

“This heatwave has come at a critical time for the crop season in the Western Mediterranean countries” it said.


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