An international research team has shown that human-induced climate change is to blame.
With each passing year, new temperature records are set due to climate change. An example of this was a heatwave that hit Siberia, which raised the temperature to 38°C – 5°C above the average between January and June 2020.
According to a study by World Weather Attribution, the temperature in the region would be 2ºC lower if human activities had not warmed the planet for decades through greenhouse gas emissions.
Andrew Ciavarella, one of the research authors and a member of the Met Office (British weather forecast service), described the findings as surprising. “This is further evidence of the extreme temperatures we can expect to see more frequently around the world in a warming climate,” he said.
To reach this conclusion, the team – which brought together scientists from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom – used computer models to simulate and compare current conditions with a world without human-induced emissions.
Thus, the team found that prolonged heatwaves would happen less than once every 80,000 years without human-induced climate change. In other words, the current heatwave would be “almost impossible in a climate that had not been warmed by greenhouse gas emissions,” they concluded.
The researchers emphasize that rising temperatures in Siberia are a global problem, as around 1.15 million hectares of burning forest (anywhere in the world) release millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
In addition, wildfires and prolonged heatwaves have accelerated the melting of the region’s soil – which caused the collapse of an oil tank built on frozen soil in May, leading to one of the worst oil spills that have ever occurred in Siberia.
“The arctic is very, very important generally for forming of weather and circulation. So such high temperatures are really important for the whole globe,” explained Olga Zolina from the Shirshov Institute of Oceanography in Russia.