Yes, it's hot. This week has already broken two records: Monday was the hottest February day on record, with temperatures above England and Wales topping 20C. It was also the first time that a temperature of 20 C or more had been recorded on a winter day in the UK.
Tuesday is probably warmer. Good news for ice cars – but is this exceptionally warm weather a sign of climate change? In short, no. Researchers rightly avoid drawing a direct connection between climate and weather. An unusually hot or cold day, month or even year cannot and should not be directly linked to climate change. But in combination with an endless stream of extreme and unusual weather, it's part of an unpleasant live ticker of our planet's destruction.
Of course, researchers need more evidence. But the public really does not. Climate change is taking place around us. Understanding specifically how and why this happens is a major academic and political challenge. But if you are waiting for a apocalypse after 19459017, it won't happen like that – just wait a few years, and your seaside resort will probably be in the sea. 19659003] When you live through a great historical event, it can be difficult to understand what is happening. Climate change is not a one-off event, it is a gradual change in what we consider to be normal. Last summer was the hottest on record in England and the common hottest for the whole of Britain. And now it's picnic weather in February.
Climate change is likely to cause more extreme weather in the future. This time last year, the United Kingdom was in the confiscation of the Beast from the East, with a record-full cold and widespread snowfall that brought much of the country to a halt. Fast forward 12 months and it's picnic weather.
Both extreme weather conditions are the result of a shift in where the air flows over the UK coming from. Right now high pressure hot air from Africa is pulling our way; Last year, a shift in the polar continental air mass meant the weather normally reserved for Scandinavia, instead of Britain. At the same time, the temperature in the Arctic was above zero on nine separate days in February. In Siberia, the temperature was 35C above average.
Something clear is not true. Climate scientists do not have enough data on these events to say for sure whether these conditions are related to climate change. What we can say is that these extreme weather conditions are made more common by climate change. Shifts in the polar continental air mass have occurred throughout the recorded history; The jet stream, which has such a great influence on the weather in Britain, is constantly changing.
Developing how it plays over time – and how to prevent things from getting worse – is the biggest crisis facing humanity. And while a harsh February day in the UK might feel a little scary, its relation to larger weather patterns is the real cause of alarm.
Case in point: Arctic. The temperatures in the Arctic increase three times as fast as the global average. This process, known as Arctic reinforcement, accelerates the loss of large amounts of Arctic sea ice. This in turn means that more heat from the sun that would have been reflected away is instead absorbed by the sea.
Which brings us back to the lovely picnic you have had in the park this week. How these countless changes play out in the Arctic will have a profound influence on our planet. Climate models indicate that decreasing levels of sea ice may result in greater variation in weather systems that govern the conditions south. In short: severe winters are more likely. And hard doesn't just mean cold. Similar climatic conditions that control the Arctic weather further south can also drive warmer weather further north. Study after study and model by model have shown one thing for sure: unusual weather is here to stay.
To see the story unfold for your eyes, look to Australia. 2018 and 2017 were Australia's third and fourth hottest years on record respectively. Officials have said that climate change has led to an increase in extreme heat. So in January this year, the country was gripped by a heat wave that sent temperatures up to 50 C across major highways. The high temperatures led to dozens of bushfires, widespread blackouts and killing millions of fish that choked in the stifling heat. Scores of cows and wild horses were found dead or dying.
In November, another Australian heatwave killed an estimated 23,000 eyewear flying foxes, with bats seen falling from trees in which scientists were described as a "biblical scale" of death. Another 10,000 bats of another species, black flying foxes, also died. All deaths occurred during a two-day period of 42 ° C temperature.
While climate scientists continue to unpick the very complex network of systems that run these weather conditions and trends, it is useful to focus on it. We do now. Global sea levels have risen 17 centimeters in the last century – with levels over the last decade rising by twice the previous century. Twenty of the hottest years on record have occurred since 1981 with all ten of the hottest years in the past 12 years.
Updated 26.02.19, 17:45 GMT: Global sea levels have increased 17 centimeters in the last century, not the last decade. The increase over the last decade has been twice the size of the previous century.
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