New science on climate change in Europe
New studies indicate longer summers, more droughts, and warmer weather throughout the year
In the past few years headlines have screamed about heatwaves, once very rare, hitting Europe again and again. Last August portions of Europe endured heat usually associated with the Mojave, a scorching 115 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Greece was hit repeatedly with long heat spells, so frequently that officials have considered naming them like hurricanes. Wildfires have become more frequent as well.
During this last week, extreme heat has led to or is exacerbating wildfires throughout France, Spain, and Portugal. The unprecedented heat has led to at least 360 deaths in the region. All of these—drought, heat, fires—have been noted for their unusualness. Unfortunately, recent science indicates that this will be the trend for Europe in the coming decades.
No matter where you live, Europe, North America, Asia, most folks feel that the summers are hotter than when we were children. It also seems that we are all changing out our closets—storing away our winter coats and bringing out the T shirts and shorts—earlier in the spring. And we’re fetching our winter coats out of storage later in the fall. It turns out that our notions and intuitions are correct. Things all over the Northern Hemisphere really have gotten hotter in recent years, and summers are lasting longer.
Research published in Climate Dynamics in May of this year has found that typical summertime weather, when the temperature breaks from the winter/springtime chill and remains warm for at least five days in a row, has led to a lengthening of summer by 10 to 15 days since 1961. (To be precise, the scientists examined the changes from 1961 to 2014.) Models that the scientists used predict that by the end of the 21st century, most of the Northern Hemisphere will have summer weather almost half the year, from 142 to 175 days.
Our children and grandchildren could sing this song half the year
On a smaller scale the lengthening of summer is less for Eurasia, but the increases are quite pronounced for North America and even more so for South Asia and the northern portion of Africa. For Americans, the Great Plain States see less lengthening of summer, while the Rockies and Appalachian Mountains see some of the greatest number of additional summer days.
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