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New heat records were broken around the world this month, with Sicily setting a new European record of 48.8 ° C and Spain roasting with a national record of 47.4 ° C.
While warm weather is not uncommon in the Mediterranean in August, new modeling shows heat waves will become longer and more intense if greenhouse gas emissions increase.
The impact will be particularly evident in the southern hemisphere: by the end of this century, the number of days above 35 ° C could increase by more than 200 per year in parts of South America in a scenario where emissions increase.
However, in a world where emissions are reduced rapidly, the increase is much smaller – about 58 additional days above 35 ° C by the turn of the century in this same region.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released this month highlighted the difference between possible climate outcomes depending on global warming.
If the planet warms by 4 ° C, an extreme heat event that would have occurred once every 50 years would be 39.2 times more likely to occur.
If it warms by 1.5 ° C, the same event would be 8.6 times more likely to occur, compared to the reference period 1850-1900.
While the summer months often see people flocking to the coast to take advantage of the heat, the extreme temperatures recently experienced in Europe can also be deadly.
The UK Met Office recently warned that Europe needs to prepare for a warmer climate in which temperatures will sometimes even exceed 50 ° C.
“The chances each summer of seeing really extreme temperatures are now pretty high,” said Peter Stott, the Met’s senior scientist on climate modeling and attribution.
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