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Summer 2023 shows extreme weather effects from climate change

2023 has seen wildfires, heatwaves, and major floods. Meanwhile, ocean temperatures are increasing, with average surface temperatures reaching unprecedented levels for June and sea ice failing to regrow in the Antarctic.antarctic ice graph

Throughout July, extreme weather has caused havoc across the planet, with temperatures breaking records in China, the United States and southern Europe, sparking forest fires, water shortages and a rise in heat-related hospital admissions.

World Weather Attribution is an initiative where scientists attempt to quantify how climate change influences the intensity and likelihood of an extreme weather event. Their latest research suggests human-induced climate change has played clear role in the extreme heatwaves that have swept across North America, Europe and China in July 2023. 

El Nino has probably also contributed to the extreme heatwaves. El Nino is a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific, but rising greenhouse gases were the major factor, the scientists said, and heatwaves will become increasingly likely if emissions are not slashed.heatwave maps The July 2023 heatwaves would have been “virtually impossible without climate change”, said researchers who stressed that extreme weather events would occur with greater frequency if the world continues to warm. Find out more

IPCC climate predictions graphAccording to new research from Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, an impact of more than $122 billion on economic activity is anticipated, with a staggering $81 billion impact in international trade. Parts of northern Europe, the western United States, Southern Australia, the Middle East and West Africa are particularly expected to feel the effects to cross-border trade, mainly because of dependencies on East Asian ports.  Find out more

As part of its digital data dashboard developments, the Teaching the Future project has used UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) data to examine how future generations will experience the warming created by climate change. This data summarises advanced climate research from hundreds of leading scientists. It suggests the risks of warming are even greater than was thought at the time of the last assessment in 2014. The IPCC report has been signed off by governments worldwide, but a lack of political commitment was a major barrier to progress.

Graphics showing the IPCC global climate predictions can be freely downloaded from the IPCC Web site.

The UN secretary-general António Guterres had confirmed “The 1.5C limit is achievable. But it will take a quantum leap in climate action.”  “Our world needs climate action on all fronts: everything, everywhere, all at once,” he said, urging richer countries to significantly improve their net zero greenhouse gas emissions targets, and strive to achieve the goal by as close to 2040 as possible, rather than by 2050.