By the 2050s, blazing “Lucifer” heatwaves driving temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius will be the norm in southern Europe, warns a report published Wednesday by the World Weather Attribution (WWA), an international coalition that analyzes the effects of climate change on extreme weather conditions.
A heat wave in southern Europe — dubbed “Lucifer” — lasted for three days at the beginning of August and similar temperature extremes are “at least four times more likely to occur than in the early 1900s because of global warming,” the researchers said.
“Lucifer” produced afternoon temperature above 40 degrees Celsius [104 F] in places like Italy, Croatia and the French island of Corsica. The heat wave resulted in a 15 percent surge in hospital emergency admissions in Italy.
According to The Lancet Planetary Health journal, Europe’s death toll from weather disasters, including heatwaves and drought, could increase 50-fold by the end of the century.
And it appears to be our own fault.
“We found clear evidence of human influence on this summer’s record warmth — both in the overall summer temperatures and in the [heat] wave dubbed Lucifer,” Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, senior researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, told Euractiv.
Friederike Otto, a research scientist at the University of Oxford and deputy director of the Environmental Change Institute (ECI), believes the report’s findings are consistent with scientists’ predictions.
“Summers keep getting hotter. Heat waves are far more intense than when my parents were growing up in the 1950s. If we do nothing to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, the kind of extreme heat we saw this past summer will be the norm when my young son is a grown man,” Otto said.
In January 2016, scientists warned that world temperatures had hit a record high for the third year in a row and that the intensity of heatwaves in Europe have increased by one to two degrees Celsius since 1950.
More than 35,000 people perished during a European heatwave in 2003, and tens of thousands died in Russia during dangerous heat conditions in 2010.
“It is critical that cities work with scientists and public health experts to develop heat action plans,” said Robert Vautard, a researcher at the Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences.
“Climate change is impacting communities right now and these plans save lives.”