India and Pakistan recently experienced record temperatures. An evaluation by researchers now shows that climate change makes such heat waves much more likely.
According to a recent analysis, heat waves like the recent one in India and Pakistan have become around 30 times more likely due to climate change.
This was analyzed by almost 30 researchers from Great Britain, India, Pakistan and other countries who have come together in the World Weather Attribution Group. So-called attribution research examines whether and to what extent extreme weather events can be attributed to global warming.
According to the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed and was published on Monday evening, the probability of such a heat wave, which has caused at least 90 deaths in India and Pakistan in recent weeks, is currently still quite low – with global warming of around 1.2 degrees: You have to reckon with a probability of one percent every year. However, before the start of the industrial age, this probability was only a thirtieth of that. With a global warming of two degrees, such an extreme heat wave must be expected about every five years, the researchers write.
Hottest March in India on record
March was the hottest in India since records began 122 years ago, and record temperatures were also measured in Pakistan. The drought also exacerbated the situation: In both countries, more than 60 percent less rain fell than usual.
To calculate the effect of climate change, the researchers analyzed weather data and computer simulations to compare today’s with those of the late 19th century.
German climate researcher Friederike Otto from Imperial College London, who worked on the impact, declared heatwaves to be the deadliest weather extremes ever. “At the same time, it is these extremes that are increasing most in a warming world. As long as greenhouse gas emissions continue, events like this will become an increasingly frequent catastrophe,” Otto said.