Hot and Cold across the world

Hot and Cold across the world
Australian meteorologists have noted that the current heatwave being experienced in Sydney, Australia, is the hottest one in over 80 years. Is climate change to blame for the..

Australian meteorologists have noted that the current heatwave being experienced in Sydney, Australia, is the hottest one in over 80 years.

Is climate change to blame for the extreme weather experienced in different parts of the world in the recent years?

Background

Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time. Global warming is the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system and its related effects. Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. Climate change poses a fundamental threat to the places, species and people’s livelihoods. Sea levels are rising and oceans are becoming warmer. Longer, more intense droughts threaten crops, wildlife and freshwater supplies. From polar bears in the Arctic to marine turtles off the coast of Africa, our planet’s diversity of life is at risk from the changing climate.

The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. As of October 2017, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 169 have become party to it. The Agreement aims to respond to the global climate change threat by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The US is the only nation that has withdrawn from the Paris accord.

 

Analysis

Australian meteorologists have noted that the current heatwave being experienced in Sydney, Australia, is the hottest one in over 80 years. In 2017, climate scientist Professor Will Steffen warned that extreme weather events were projected to worsen across Australia as the climate warmed further every year.

He said, "It is a risk for human health, particularly for the most vulnerable — the elderly, very young people, and exposed outdoor workers. It is obviously a risk for the agricultural industry, it is a risk for natural ecosystems. We saw an underwater heatwave about a year ago wipe out a large part of the Great Barrier Reef. A lot of these impacts we are seeing occurring now are occurring earlier than we had projected a few years ago.”

Sydney endured its hottest temperature in nearly 80 years on January 7th, 2018. The Sydney metropolitan area witnessed a maximum temperature of 47.3 degree Celsius. Presently, the highest temperature that has been recorded in the history of Sydney was in 1939. The temperature at the time was 47.8 degree Celsius. Thousands were left without power, and total fire bans were put in place as officials warned of a severe danger. Residents have been encouraged to drink extra water and limit their time spent outside. The region has also initiated a fire ban.

In sharp contrast, gripping cold has engulfed the East Coast region of the US. A massive winter storm left the region buried in 18cms of snow. It also resulted in the deaths of at least seven people. “It’s definitely cold and the type of bone-chilling cold that happens every few years,” said Dan Hofmann, a meteorologist with the NWS in Baltimore. He added that the last time such extreme cold occurred was in February 2015.

In 2017, more than 16,000 scientists from across the world published a warning to humanity about the dire consequences of climate change and how it remains a threat.

Assessment

Our assessment is that there needs to additional research undertaken to analyse the role played by climate change in weather events such as the heatwave gripping Australia. Previously, experts noted that climate change could be to blame for the intensity of hurricanes that led to widespread destruction and loss of life in North America. 

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