The chance that UK summer days could hit the 40 degree Celsius mark on the thermometer is on the rise, a new study from the country's Met Office Hadley Centre has found.
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By Eoin Higgins
The number of fires in the vast north Asian region of Siberia increased fivefold this week, according to the Russian forest fire aerial protection service, as temperatures in the Arctic continued higher than normal in the latest sign of the ongoing climate crisis.
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Along many tropical shorelines, swampy mangrove forests create habitat for fish and buffer the impact of heavy waves.
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By Juan Declet-Barreto
In early April, when social distancing took hold across many places in the U.S. — with school and workplace closings and public life coming to a halt — it seemed like an inopportune time to talk about climate change.
The Double whammy of Climate and COVID-19 on Vulnerable People<p>If the litany of pandemic scientists' warnings sounds familiar, it's because climate scientists have been issuing, for decades, similar warnings about the need to reduce carbon emissions to curb climate change and avoid catastrophic consequences for human life and the infrastructure that supports it. And while climate change and COVID-19 may seem unrelated on the surface, we live in an interconnected world where carbon emissions and viral agents like the novel coronavirus are globalized, operating and disrupting our lives at different spatial and temporal scales. Think, for example, of the novel coronavirus' 1-14 day incubation period in our bodies, a climate change-driven heat wave through our city, or seasonal flooding through our region.</p><p>Our new pandemic reality has been made more complicated and dangerous by climate change and the added pressure it can exert on millions of people — e.g., to seek cooling centers, endure a long power outage, flee the path of hurricanes, the loss of life or property, habitats, and ancestral ways of life — and the combination looks frightening.</p><p>A few weeks ago, my colleague Dr. Kristy Dahl and I analyzed the <a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/kristy-dahl/new-ucs-analysis-coronavirus-and-flooding-set-to-collide-in-us?fbclid=IwAR0H0KQu7pq6mlssXFHYCCrJ_NPcQ9sIiYVbV00vPiqtXjJOCKdSMUNlezg" target="_blank">confluence of projected COVID-19 infections</a> and spring flood predictions by the end of May 2020. We found that many areas in the U.S. South and Midwest, including rural agricultural communities like Cedar Rapids, IA, and large metropolitan areas like Atlanta and St Louis could be dealing with evacuating people to shelters while simultaneously trying to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus by maintaining social distancing guidelines.</p><p>Fortunately, most of those flood predictions have not come true. But NOAA's Spring flood outlook, <a href="https://www.weather.gov/dvn/2020_springfloodoutlook" target="_blank">updated since we did that analysis</a>, is warning that spring rain and wet soil conditions could still drive flooding in the late season.</p>
Protecting Against Both COVID-19 and Extreme Weather<p>As temperatures across the U.S. rise with the approach of summer, another climate and COVID-19 quandary is in sight: how to protect people — especially the most vulnerable — from heat waves, while also protecting them from COVID-19?</p><p>For example, elderly people, who are at <a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/adrienne-hollis/catch-22-of-coronavirus-for-seniors-most-at-risk-and-the-importance-of-up-to-date-information" target="_blank">higher risk of death from COVID-19</a>, are also at high risk of becoming sick or dying from extreme heat, as was the case in the <a href="http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/July-2015/1995-Chicago-heat-wave/" target="_blank">1995 Chicago heat wave</a> that killed 700-plus (many of them people of advanced age who lived on their own). In some cities, where heat tends to be more extreme because of the <a href="https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/WCAS-D-15-0026.1" target="_blank">urban heat island effect</a>, many elderly people live on their own, may not have an air conditioner unit at home, or may be unable to afford its use. Many among those will be forced to observe social distancing by sheltering in place in dangerously hot homes. But poverty and social isolation on their own will unfortunately also take their toll on the most vulnerable if we don't take steps to protect them.</p><p>COVID-19 is already ravaging <a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/adrienne-hollis/the-crisis-within-the-crisis-covid-19-is-ravaging-african-americans" target="_blank">African American</a> and <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/coronavirus-takes-more-native-americans-lives-killing-our-elderly-erases-ncna1189761" target="_blank">Native American communities</a>, and <a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/juan-declet-barreto/para-enfrentar-la-pandemia-del-coronavirus-necesitamos-escuchar-a-los-cientificos-y-mantener-el-distanciamiento-social" target="_blank">Latinos are also disproportionately exposed</a> to the novel coronavirus. Many of the usual steps taken to protect people from extreme heat in many of these communities — in urban and rural areas alike — are incompatible with the social distancing measures taken to prevent virus contagion. And if climate change continues unchecked, the <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/killer-heat-united-states-0" target="_blank">number of "killer heat" days</a> could quadruple in many areas of the U.S., putting more people in harm's way.</p><p>Before the COVID-19 crisis, it may have been possible for elderly people and other vulnerable persons to go to nearby cooling centers, malls, movie theaters, parks, lakes, or beaches, but in many states these are closed to limit spread of COVID-19 infections.</p><p>In mid-April, the <a href="https://twitter.com/DecletBarreto/status/1250882413837901826" target="_blank">heat index in parts of Florida exceeded 100<strong>°</strong>F</a>, prompting calls for Governor DeSantis to enact a statewide moratorium on utility shutoffs for lapses in bill payment. Keeping the air conditioner (AC) on is a critical way for people to stay healthy and alive indoors during extreme heat days while observing social distancing and stay-at- home orders.</p><p>This came into focus last week across the Southern U.S. as a deadly heat wave blanketed the region. As my colleague <a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/rachel-licker/how-to-keep-us-south-safe-from-covid-19-and-scorching-heat-even-as-some-states-ignore-pandemic-dangers" target="_blank">Dr. Rachel Licker pointed out</a>, the combination of income loss, COVID-19, extreme heat, and the lack of utility shutoff moratoria are bad, bad news for millions across the South. In this time when multiple environmental hazards are hitting us, the way to keep people safe from a heat wave is to keep the AC running at home so they don't have to go outside to cool and risk spread of COVID-19.</p><p>Under normal times, it's difficult for a significant chunk of the U.S. population to keep the AC, refrigerator, and other essential home appliances running, but loss of jobs and income will make it even harder for an even larger segment of the population.</p>
Six Ways Congress Can Keep Low-Income People at Home and Cool During the Pandemic<ul> <li><strong>Ensure Parity in energy bill assistance benefits to residents of public housing </strong>– In at least 26 states, residents of public housing with energy costs included in rent are <a href="https://liheapch.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/440.htm" target="_blank">not eligible for energy bill payment</a> assistance under the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Such an arrangement means that tenants don't have to pay out of pocket for electric bills, which can serve to protect from heat those residents of public housing that includes AC units. But it does not work for public housing that does not include AC units because LIHEAP does not cover the purchase of AC units. In addition, residents of public housing in many states receive less LIHEAP benefits regardless of how energy costs are paid. Residents of public housing, like other low-income populations, already face significant challenges to meeting material needs, and should not be penalized by LIHEAP. Congress must ensure parity in LIHEAP benefits for all low-income populations.</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Eliminate LIHEAP medical documentation requirement </strong>– One requirement for LIHEAP benefits eligibility is that an applicant with a health or medical risk that could worsen with a utility disconnection provides medical documentation of such risk. In this country, many low-income persons lack health insurance due to cost barriers. In addition, in-person medical appointments are currently largely not possible due to the need to observe social distancing during the pandemic, and virtual medical appointments require broadband internet connections at home and computer equipment that may be out of reach for many low-income populations. Beyond pre-existing medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes that could be exacerbated by extreme heat, many persons without diagnosed medical conditions are still at risk of heat-related illness or death. While some <a href="https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/resource/liheap-dcl-initial-covid-19-program-guidance" target="_blank">LIHEAP implementation guidelines have been explicitly relaxed during the COVID-19 emergency</a>, jurisdictions do not appear to have authority to relax medical documentation eligibility requirements.</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Enact utility shutoff moratoria in all states and territories for the duration of the pandemic </strong>– While Florida is the only state with no protections against utility shutoffs due to health or medical reasons, only nine states have enacted bans for electricity shutoffs based on temperature thresholds. <a href="https://www.metro.pr/pr/noticias/2020/03/17/aee-rechaza-otorgar-moratoria-pagos-energia-electrica.html" target="_blank">Puerto Rico</a> and the <a href="http://www.viwapa.vi/news-information/press-releases/press-release-details/2020/03/28/wapa-reiterates-commitment-to-not-disconnect-delinquent-accounts-during-covid-19-state-of-emergency" target="_blank">US Virgin Islands</a> have not formally enacted moratoria, but their respective power companies have committed publicly to not disconnect power for non-payment during the COVID-19 emergency. But as my colleague Joe Daniel wrote, voluntary actions of <a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/joseph-daniel/how-covid-19-leads-to-energy-insecurity" target="_blank">power companies do not provide</a> comprehensive protection and are not uniform across the U.S. Therefore, what is needed is a national mandatory moratorium on utility disconnections that includes territories and tribal nations as well. If power bills stack up and become due at some point after the crisis, many low-income people will see their energy burden increase, so a national utility disconnection moratorium needs to come with a plan for recouping costs that does not impose an inequitable burden.</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Enact parity in evictions moratoria for the duration of the pandemic </strong>– The CARES Act temporarily banned evictions for not paying rent, but similar to the utility shutoff ban, the evictions moratorium "<a href="https://www.pogo.org/analysis/2020/04/amid-pandemic-congress-suspends-evictions-but-not-for-all/" target="_blank">has gaps, limits, and pitfalls</a>" and can also be problematic for landlords. There is no straightforward way for renters to know if their landlords are banned by law from evicting renters–not unless the landlord shares with renters information on for example, if the landlord has a federally-backed mortgage, or participation in housing programs for victims of domestic violence. And landlords will typically have little incentive to share such information with their tenants. Regardless, <a href="https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/cares-act-eviction-moratorium-covers-all-federally-financed-rentals-thats-one-four-us-rental-units" target="_blank">the CARES Act moratorium</a> covers just 28 percent of rental units in the US. Just like with the utility shutoff ban, Congress must enact a national moratorium on evictions that includes the territories and tribal nations as well.</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Increase income ceiling for LIHEAP eligibility </strong>– Income eligibility for LIHEAP is somewhere between 100 and 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (<a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/federal-poverty-level-fpl/" target="_blank">FPL</a>), and states have discretion in choosing the specific cutoff within that range. To use an example, the FPL for a family of four (like mine) is $26,200, obviously a very modest income, and too low for many households to deal with the <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewdepietro/2017/12/28/cost-of-living-is-surging-in-these-major-cities-and-what-it-could-mean-for-2018/#74d1fe5571c6" target="_blank">increasing cost of living in US cities</a>. Congress must raise the income limits for LIHEAP eligibility, which would go a long way to reduce energy insecurity among millions in the US.</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Increase funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program </strong>– Poor-quality homes increase cooling (and heating) costs, which can increase the energy burden of low-income households. The <strong><a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/mark-specht/three-stimulus-package-priorities-to-rebuild-a-more-equitable-and-sustainable-economy" target="_blank">Weatherization Assistance Program</a> (WAP) funds home improvements such as insulation, repairs to heating or cooling systems, and home appliance upgrades to more energy-efficient models. </strong> This program supports thousands of jobs, and can help low-income households lower their energy bills and thus their energy burden. Increased funding for the program will create more jobs and lower energy burdens.</li></ul>
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By Roman Goncharenko
Unseasonably warm temperatures, blue skies and gardens in full bloom — most of Europe is currently enjoying dreamy spring weather. But that's not how farmers see it. They are hoping for rain, and fear that without it their crops will suffer greatly. And experts say there is a very real prospect that beyond the continuing coronavirus pandemic, Europe could be facing weather-induced crop failures in the very near future.
Global Warming Hasn't Gone Away<p>"January was too warm. There is no evidence that global warming has paused or slowed," says Andreas Becker of the German Weather Service (DWD) in Frankfurt am Main. Moreover, he says, January and March were far too dry and February too wet. Water levels in Germany's largest river, the Rhine, were more than 6 meters (20 feet) above average in early March, though they are now falling once again. Currently, the Rhine is close to its average depth of 3.5 meters, but water levels are continuing to drop.</p><p>Meteorologist Becker says the good thing about having such a wet February is that it helped offset some of the groundwater loss that occurred over the past two years as temperatures soared above 40℃ (104℉). He says plants, which draw water from the top 20-50 centimeters (8-20 inches) of soil, have been doing better than trees, which draw theirs from depths closer to two meters. Becker says there is very little water remaining at those levels.</p><p><span></span>Now, he warns, things will have deteriorated further still as March was such a dry month. This year, Germany only received 50-75% of the rainfall that it usually gets for the month. For meteorologists, that comes close to qualifying as a drought.</p>
Eastern Europe Especially Dry<p>Andreas Marx from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research's Central Germany Office in Leipzig points out that the past three years have seen unusually low amounts of precipitation. He says that has been the case not only in northern Germany, but also in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Romania.</p><p>The expert says three-week cycles without rain are normal for Europe, but says what has been unusual over the past three years has been the increasing stabilization of the jet stream, which normally meanders around the North Pole some 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) above the Earth. A veritable conveyor belt for winds, the jet stream normally winds and shifts its path, changing weather patterns on the Earth's surface.</p><p>"Climate change has caused the North Pole to warm far faster than the Equator. Now the jet stream is increasingly moving in a north-south direction," says Marx. As a result, the jet stream is not moving around as much as it once did, leading to stable weather patterns such as the extended dry periods that Germany suffered in 2018.</p>
How Dry Will Things Get This Summer?<p>Since weather predictions for even a week or two are considered uncertain, meteorologists shy away from making long-term weather predictions about things such as how the upcoming summer might be. Both Becker and Marx add that due to Europe's varied geography — including its mountains and oceans — it is far more difficult to predict the weather in Europe than in places like Australia, which is surrounded by water. Still, both expect this summer to be warmer than usual. The German Weather Service, for instance, has already suggested that temperatures in Germany could be half a degree (Celsius) warmer than average.</p><p>Marx, who is currently basing his modeling on data from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), says not only does he expect the coming summer to be warmer than usual, but also drier. He points out that hot periods have changed all over the world.</p><p>"Technically, hot days are those over 30℃. Statistically, one can expect seven or eight such days each year in Leipzig. But we had 36 of them in 2018, and 29 in 2019. That means heat waves last three to four times longer than average." Marx says that has serious consequences for farmers but also for human health. </p>
Heat Could Amplify the Effects of the Coronavirus<p>If things go as the experts expect, Europeans will not only face the prospect of movement restrictions necessitated by COVID-19, but will also have to suffer under extended periods of extreme heat. That heat is something that already plagues elderly citizens — who are also most at risk from the coronavirus — and it makes wearing a face mask all the more uncomfortable.</p><p>Long droughts also increase the chance of forest fires and the massive amounts of smoke that they produce. That would be yet another burden on peoples' lungs, especially those infected with the coronavirus.</p>
By Richard Connor
Scientists have recorded Antarctica's first documented heat wave, warning that animal and plant life on the isolated continent could be drastically affected by climate change.
Global Impact on Climate<p>The authors of the study said the local effects of climate change could have a global impact.</p><p>"Antarctica may be isolated from the rest of the continents by the Southern Ocean, but it has worldwide impacts," they said.</p><p>"It drives the global ocean conveyor belt, a constant system of deep-ocean circulation which transfers oceanic heat around the planet, and its melting ice sheet adds to global sea-level rise."</p><p>Co-author Dana Bergstrom said the hot summer could affect local populations positively at first, but could also lead to drought and heat stress on species adapted for the cold.</p>
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Concrete and asphalt absorb the sun's energy. So when a heat wave strikes, city neighborhoods with few trees and lots of black pavement can get hotter than other areas — a lot hotter.
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By Daisy Dunne
Deadly "day-night hot extremes" are increasing across the northern hemisphere due to climate change, a new study finds.
Day and Night<p>The new study, published in <a href="https://nature.com/articles/s41467-019-14233-8" target="_blank">Nature Communications</a>, looks specifically at "compound hot extremes" — a 24-hour period in summer where hot daytime temperatures are followed by similar nightime temperatures. (Temperatures are considered "hot" if they are in the top 10% of temperatures experienced by a region from 1960-2012.)</p><p>These kinds of events pose a particularly high danger to human health, explain study authors <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/people/yang-chen/" target="_blank">Dr Yang Chen</a>, a climate extremes scientist from the <a href="http://www.cma.gov.cn/en2014/aboutcma/organizational/InstitutionsunderCMA/201409/t20140915_261139.html" target="_blank">Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences</a>, and <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jun_Wang272" target="_blank">Dr Jun Wang</a>, a climate and meteorological scientist from the <a href="http://english.iap.cas.cn/" target="_blank">Institute of Atmospheric Physics</a> in China. In a joint interview, they tell Carbon Brief:</p><blockquote>Simply put, compound hot extremes deprive humans of the valuable chance of relief, which could have been provided by the 'cooling-off' effects of a nighttime low.<br></blockquote><p>Such conditions occurred during the <a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/study-links-heatwave-deaths-london-paris-climate-change" target="_blank">2003 summer heatwave</a> in Europe, which saw <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1631069107003770" target="_blank">70,000 deaths</a> across 16 countries, the authors say. Another example is the <a href="https://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/July-2015/1995-Chicago-heat-wave/" target="_blank">1995 Chicago heatwave</a>, which led to more than 700 heat-related deaths in just five days.<br></p><p>The study is the first to present "a complete storyline on compound hot extremes" — investigating how they have changed, the role of climate change in this and how they might increase in the future, the authors say.<br></p><p>The results show that compound hot extremes "are significantly increasing and will continue to increase in frequency and intensity" across the northern hemisphere, say Chen and Wang:</p><blockquote>These increases in heat hazards will translate into several-fold increases in population exposure to them. The rise of anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gas emissions is to blame for these increases.<br></blockquote>
Burning Up<p>For the first part of their study, the authors analysed the "fingerprint" of human-caused climate change on compound hot extremes to date. To do this, they conducted an "<a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/category/science/extreme-weather/attribution" target="_blank">attribution</a>" analysis.<br></p><p>This involves using <a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/qa-how-do-climate-models-work" target="_blank">climate models</a> to produce two sets of simulations: one including <a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-why-scientists-think-100-of-global-warming-is-due-to-humans" target="_blank">all the factors that affect the climate</a>, including human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, volcanic eruptions and solar variability, and one including all of these factors except for greenhouse gas emissions.</p><p>The researchers then compared the frequency and intensity of compound hot extremes in both of these scenarios.</p><p>They found that only the scenario including human-caused greenhouse gas emissions could closely reproduce the pattern of compound hot extremes observed from 1960 to 2012. In their research paper, the authors write:</p><blockquote>We find that the summer-mean warming over 1960-2012 largely dictates the past increases in frequency and intensity of compound hot extremes during that period in both observations and simulations.<br></blockquote><p>The maps below show observed changes in summertime compound hot extreme frequency (left) and intensity (right) across the northern hemisphere from 1960-2012.</p><p>The left-hand map shows changes in the number of compound hot extreme days per decade (yellow to red for increases; light to dark blue for decreases), while the right-hand map shows changes in the average temperature of compound hot extremes per decade (same color scale).</p>
Contributions from changing temperature mean and variability. Wang et al. (2020)<p>The map shows that increases in the frequency and intensity of compound hot extremes are widespread across the northern hemisphere, with parts of continental Europe and China particularly affected.</p><p>(Gaps in the data prevented the researchers from analysing changes in the most southern parts of the northern hemisphere, the authors say in their research paper.)</p><p>While the global pattern of increases is best explained by human-caused global warming, it is possible that some regional differences may be explained by other factors, the authors say.</p><p>For example, the drying of soils could help to explain local variation of heat extremes, the authors say in their research paper.</p><p>This is because dry soils accumulate heat during the day and release it at night, Wang and Chen say, making night hot extremes and, therefore, compound hot extremes, more likely.</p>
Furnace Forecast<p>The authors also used climate models to project possible future changes to compound hot extremes until 2100. They investigated two scenarios: one "<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-011-0148-z" target="_blank">intermediate mitigation</a>" pathway with moderately high greenhouse gas emissions ("<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-011-0151-4" target="_blank">RCP4.5</a>") and one with very high greenhouse gas emissions ("<a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-the-high-emissions-rcp8-5-global-warming-scenario" target="_blank">RCP8.5</a>").</p><p>Within each emissions scenario, they also looked at the changes to compound hot extremes expected if the world reaches 1.5 C and 2 C of global warming, which are the temperature limits set by the <a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/interactive-the-paris-agreement-on-climate-change" target="_blank">Paris agreement</a>.</p><p>The charts below show the average expected change in the number of summertime compound hot extreme days (purple line), as well as independent hot days (blue line) and independent hot nights (turquoise line) across the northern hemisphere under RCP4.5 (top) and RCP8.5 (bottom) until 2100. (Compound extremes are where a hot day is followed by a hot night, whereas an "independent hot day" is when a hot day is not followed by a hot night.)</p><p>On the charts, red circles point out when the temperature limits of 1.5 C and 2 C will be breached in each scenario. The bottom chart also highlights when 4C could be breached. The various data points represent results from different climate models.</p><p>(It is worth noting that events are considered to be compound or independent. So, a 24-hour period where a hot day is followed by a hot night would be considered a compound extreme, but not an independent hot day or hot night.)</p>
Constrained projections of summertime hot extremes. Wang et al. (2020)<p>The results show that the average number of compound hot extreme days across the northern hemisphere in summer would more than double if temperatures reach 2 C, when compared to 2012.</p><p>Keeping temperatures at 1.5 C could see five fewer compound hot extreme days across the northern hemisphere, on average, when compared to 2 C, the research adds.</p><p>If greenhouse gas emissions are extremely high (RCP8.5), the number of summertime compound hot extremes could increase eight-fold by 2100, when compared to 2012, the results show.</p><p>The charts also show that compound hot events are expected to increase at a much more rapid rate than independent hot day or hot night events.</p><p>This is chiefly because <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/07/11/climate/summer-nights-warming-faster-than-days-dangerous.html" target="_blank">climate change is known</a> to have a larger effect on nightime temperatures than daytime temperatures, the authors say.</p><p>Therefore, as the chances of hot nights become higher, the chances of compound hot events also increase — and, so, the chances of a hot day or night occurring independently decreases, explain Chen and Wang.</p>
‘Clear Evidence’<p>The findings reinforce "the urgency in reducing emission of greenhouse gases" for policymakers, say Chen and Wang:</p><blockquote>We should keep the point in mind that as the globe warms, future summers are increasingly dominated by compound hot extremes and become more uncomfortable. Namely, a hot day accompanied by a hot night without a relief window for humans might become a 'new norm'. As a result, vigilance against excess heat should be kept through day and night.<br></blockquote><p>The study is "impressively comprehensive," says <a href="http://www.bristol.ac.uk/geography/people/eunice-t-lo/overview.html" target="_blank">Dr Eunice Lo</a>, a research associate in climate extremes from the <a href="https://www.bristol.ac.uk/" target="_blank">University of Bristol</a>, who was not involved in the research. She tells Carbon Brief:</p><blockquote>I think the main take home message from this study is that we should use consecutive day-night hot extremes as a major heat-health indicator for policymaking, as compound hot extremes are projected to have larger future increases in frequency and intensity then hot days or nights.<br></blockquote><p>The findings produce "clear evidence" that human-caused climate change is leaving its mark on extreme heat events, says <a href="https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/people/peter-stott" target="_blank">Prof Peter Stott</a>, who leads on climate monitoring and attribution at the <a href="https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/climate-change/organisations-and-reports/met-office-hadley-centre" target="_blank">Met Office Hadley Centre</a>. Stott, who was also not involved in the research, tells Carbon Brief:</p><blockquote>I don't find the conclusions of the study very surprising, but I do like the way the authors have comprehensively set out the implications – the clear evidence that the changes to date are driven by human emissions and the clear evidence that future changes will result in significant increases in the frequency and intensity of these compound extremes worldwide.<br></blockquote>
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By Tim Radford
The year is less than four weeks old, but scientists already know that carbon dioxide emissions will continue to head upwards — as they have every year since measurements began — leading to a continuation of the Earth's rising heat.
Relentless Increase<p>"Every decade since the 1960s has been warmer than the one before," said <a href="https://www.giss.nasa.gov/staff/gschmidt/" target="_blank">Gavin Schmidt of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies</a>.</p><p>The British Met Office — working from yet another set of data — agreed that <a href="https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/press-office/news/weather-and-climate/2020/confirmation-that-2019-concludes-warmest-decade-on-record" target="_blank">2019 had been 1.05°C above the average for most of human history</a>, and that the last five years were the warmest since records began in 1850.</p><p>And only days beforehand, Chinese scientists had taken the temperature of the world's oceans to find them <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-01/ioap-row010920.php" target="_blank">warmer than at any time in recorded history</a>. The past 10 years had been the warmest decade for ocean temperatures worldwide.</p><p>In 2019, they write in the journal <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00376-020-9283-7" target="_blank">Advances in Atmospheric Sciences</a>, a partnership of 14 researchers from 11 institutes around the world had measured from the surface to a depth of 2000 meters to find that the global ocean — and 70 percent of the planet is covered in blue water — is now 0.075°C warmer on average than it was between 1981 and 2010.</p><p>Measured in the basic units of heat-energy, this means that the seas have soaked up 228,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules of heat.</p>
100 Seconds to Midnight<p>"That's a lot of zeros indeed. To make it easier to understand, I did a calculation," said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lijing_Cheng" target="_blank">Lijing Cheng, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences</a>, who led the study.</p><p>"The amount of heat we have put into the world's oceans in the last 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atomic bomb explosions. This measured ocean warming is irrefutable and is further proof of global warming. There are no reasonable alternatives aside from the human emissions of heat-trapping gases to explain this heating."</p><p>On Jan. 23 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that it had moved the hands of its symbolic Doomsday Clock to <a href="https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/current-time/" target="_blank">100 seconds from midnight</a> <i>—</i> the closest they have ever been to the time chosen to represent apocalypse.</p><p>The reason? "Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers <i>— </i>nuclear war and climate change <i>—</i> that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society's ability to respond," said the scientists.</p><p>"World leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode."</p>
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