What do intensifying heatwaves mean for our future?
In this video, Dr. Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, of Sydney’s University of New South Wales, discusses the phenomenon being experienced with searing ferocity across the world, in the midst of ongoing climate change.
“When we think of heatwaves, we can consider their intensity, frequency, duration, timing, spatial extent, the list goes on from there,” she says. “And almost all of those characteristics have shown some sort of increase over the last 70 or so years.”
Lead author of a landmark heatwave global study, Dr. Perkins-Kirkpatrick’s research offers stark findings.
“The changes that we’re detecting, especially in heatwave frequency, are due to background climate change caused by human emissions,” she explains.
As we know by now, the extreme heat heightens the risk of fires and places extra pressure on transport and energy systems, while posing a serious threat to public health.
Climate models point to the worsening of this effect.
“You don’t need a large change in average conditions to see a really large change in extremes,” points out Perkins-Kirkpatrick. “It’s concerning because I know how bad the changes are, at just one degree warming.”
But she retains hope the world will make the necessary reductions to greenhouse-gas emissions – optimism she intends to pass on to her own two children as they get older.
View the original video here.
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