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Study: July heat waves 'virtually impossible' without worsening climate change

Extreme heat no longer rare in the modern world, scientists conclude

Israelis cool off in a pool from the Byzantine Period with water from the Haniya Natural Spring in the Judean Mountains National Park in the West Bank on July 15 as the Israeli weather service issued a severe heat stress warning. Photo by Debbie Hill/ UPI
1 of 4 | Israelis cool off in a pool from the Byzantine Period with water from the Haniya Natural Spring in the Judean Mountains National Park in the West Bank on July 15 as the Israeli weather service issued a severe heat stress warning. Photo by Debbie Hill/ UPI | License Photo

July 25 (UPI) -- Extreme heat and blistering temperatures across the globe in July are a likely sign of worsening climate change, according to new analysis by World Weather Attribution.

Heat waves baking the United States, Europeand Asia would be "virtually impossible" without climate change, which is causing extreme weather and bringing death and destruction to nations throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the report published Tuesday said.

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"Without human-induced climate change, these heat events would, however, have been extremely rare," scientists in the study conclude. "In all the regions a heat wave of the same likelihood as the one observed today would have been significantly cooler in a world without climate change."

As part of the study, researchers sought to assess the extent of human-induced climate change, and how it is serving to alter the likelihood and intensity of extreme heat being felt across the world.

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July has been one of the hottest months on record in the United States, Mexico, Southern Europe and China -- where heat waves were no longer rare but at least 50 times more likely in the modern world, the report said.

North America, Europe and China have experienced heat waves with increasing frequency "as a result of warming caused by human activities," the report concluded, adding that extreme climate events could be expected about once every 15 years in the United States and Mexico, once every decade in Southern Europe and once every 5 years in China.

Previously, such heat waves would have occurred only once in 250 years, the report said.

The report comes as a dome of heat continues to sit over the Southwest United States while making its way to the country's midsection, where it will affect millions more with dangerously hot weather in the coming days.

Meanwhile, parts of Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico tied all-time highs in July, while Phoenix recorded its highest-ever nighttime temperature, which never fell below 90 degrees, the report said.

In mid-July, high temperatures exceeded 122 degrees in Death Valley, Calif., as well as in Northwest China, in Sanbao province, the report said.

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The unrelenting heat was being blamed for several deaths throughout the United States, while hot temperatures killed more than 200 in Mexico, including several migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, the report said.

In Europe, Catalunya shattered its highest-ever recorded temperature in July while many parts of Spain were also experiencing dangerous heat.

A report published by Barcelona Institute for Global Health earlier this month said 61,000 people died from excessive heat in Europe last summer as temperatures surged above average every week.

Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Algeria and China also reported numerous heat deaths, as well as a surge in heat-related hospitalizations.

More than 100 million people in Italy, Spain and the southern United States are under heat warnings or alerts, while demand for power surged across three continents as populations struggled to stay cool.

Multiple nations continue to grapple with repeated environmental disasters fueled by the climate crisis, which have ruined crops, killed livestock and sparked wildfires and extreme flooding, while also taking a toll on major exports to America.

The report also warns of increasing environmental consequences for the planet if more action isn't taken on the climate crisis.

"Unless the world rapidly stops burning fossil fuels, these events will become even more common and the world will experience heat waves that are even hotter and longer-lasting," the report says. "A heat wave like the recent ones would occur every 2-5 years in a world that is 2 degrees Celsius warmer than the preindustrial climate."

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Earlier this month, climate scientists at the University of Maine recorded the hottest day ever for the world's average temperature, which eclipsed 62 degrees twice during the long July 4 holiday weekend.

Meteorologists have warned that an El Nino event was likely to prolong extreme temperatures into the coming months, raising the potential for even more heat records.

Efforts to curtail the climate crisis have gained steam around the world, with hundreds of nations accelerating carbon reduction under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which set tangible goals to lower global warming levels over the next decade.

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