Scientists agree extreme weather will become more common if the planet is allowed to grow hotter. But researchers at the University of Reading have now found summers in Europe will become more complicated, with more unusually hot and cold days. In a study published in Nature Geoscience on May 18, the researchers analysed how global warming will affect summer and winter temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere.
In the summer, the researchers predict temperature fluctuations will become more unpredictable across Europe, with days that are hotter and colder than the average.
In the winter, unusually warm days will likely become less common and unusually cold ones will become even rarer.
Lead author Dr Talia Tamarin-Brodsky said: “Previous studies have assumed that hot and cold variations around the warmer future average temperature will be affected equally.
“However, our research shows this is not the case.
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“In Europe, there will be more days in summer that are noticeably hotter or colder than average as temperatures vary more.
“In winter, colder than average days will become less likely over most of the Northern Hemisphere, which means that when they do come they will be even further from what we are used to, making it more difficult for human infrastructure, and the natural world, to cope.”
Researchers at Rutgers University have warned in March up to 1.2 billion people will suffer from global warming-related heat stress.
Another study published by researchers at the University of Exeter in May this year found up to 3.5 billion people will live in unbearable heat by 2070.
In Europe, there will be more days in summer that are noticeably hotter or colder
Dr Talia Tamarin-Brodsky, Univeristy of Reading
According to the new study, regional warming patterns in Europe will also affect neighbouring regions as hot and cold masses of air are carried around.
As a result, the researchers predict different temperature deviations in different parts of the world.
Dr Tamarin-Brodsky said: “We may be able to get used to a warmer world, but more apparent temperature fluctuations from the average could present risks to our health, agriculture and infrastructure, as well as to the natural world
“It is therefore important to understand how regular and how severe these temperature deviations will be at different regions and times of year to help plan and prepare to climate change.”
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In their study, the researchers wrote: “Our findings suggest that the world may experience not only a warmer mean climate in the coming decades, but also changes in the likelihood of temperature anomalies within that climate.”
According to the Met Office, extreme weather events linked to climate change threaten “severe impacts” on society and ecosystems.
The effects of climate change have been studied since the 1950s and are at the heart of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In 2018, the IPCC published a report urging world leaders to curb their countries’ greenhouse emissions to limit global warming to between 1.5C and 2C of pre-industrial levels.
Debra Roberts, one fo the six IPCC co-chairs, said at the time: “It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now.
“This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilises people and dents the mood of complacency.”
The report was based on some 6,000 peer-reviewed studies.
In January 2019, the planet was already 1.15C above the pre-industrial average and was branded the second-hottest year on record, just behind 2016.
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