Climate Change Study: Record-Breaking Heatwave Last Month Caused by Humans, Repercussions Numerous

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A recent study conducted by the World Weather Attribution group, comprising leading climate scientists, indicates that the extreme temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius experienced across Asia in April were exacerbated by human-caused climate change.

The study underscores the exacerbation of heatwaves by climate change, particularly affecting impoverished communities across Asia and the 1.7 million displaced Palestinians in Gaza.

Throughout April, Asia encountered severe heatwaves. South and Southeast Asian nations like Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam witnessed record-breaking temperatures for April, while the Philippines recorded its highest-ever nighttime temperature.

India witnessed 46 degrees Celsius

In India, temperatures soared to a scorching 46 degrees Celsius. West Asia also experienced extreme heat, with Palestine and Israel enduring temperatures surpassing 40 degrees Celsius. Notably, April marked the hottest on record globally, extending the streak of consecutive months breaking temperature records to eleven.

Tragically, numerous heat-related fatalities were reported, including at least 28 in Bangladesh, five in India, and three in Gaza. Additionally, spikes in heat-related deaths were observed in Thailand and the Philippines. However, due to underreporting, the actual toll could be considerably higher, possibly numbering in the hundreds or even thousands across Asia.

The heatwave's repercussions extended beyond human health, causing crop failures, livestock losses, water shortages, fish die-offs, widespread school closures, and even influencing voter turnout in Kerala.

Human-caused climate change

Attributed to human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation, climate change is exacerbating the frequency, duration, and intensity of heatwaves globally. To gauge the impact of human-induced warming on extreme temperatures in Asia, scientists analyzed weather data and climate models, comparing current climate conditions with pre-industrial levels.

The study focused on West Asia and the Philippines, assessing the influence of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation. Results indicate that human-induced warming has increased the frequency and intensity of heatwaves in West Asia, making them five times more likely and 1.7 degrees Celsius hotter.

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Two climate change activists seen chanting "End fossil fuels” from the stands during the Coco Gauff vs Karolina Muchova Semifinal semifinal at the US Open Twitter

Moreover, projections suggest that unless emissions are drastically curtailed, similar heatwaves could occur every five years by the 2040s or 2050s, accompanied by an additional one-degree temperature rise.

While El Niño was found to have no significant impact on temperatures in West Asia, its effects were not addressed in the analysis for South Asia due to previous studies by the World Weather Attribution group.

The study, conducted by a team of 13 researchers from various institutions worldwide, underscores the urgent need for climate action. Mariam Zachariah, a researcher at Imperial College London, emphasizes the necessity of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to mitigate the escalating risks of extreme heat in Asia.

Last year, in its study on floods, the World Weather Attribution (WWA) group reported that human-induced climate change has intensified the torrential rains in East Africa, resulting in devastating floods that have claimed over 300 lives since October 2023.

"Up to 50% more rain had fallen as a result of human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions," said the World Weather Attribution group.