Europe is in the grip of a record-breaking heatwave and wildfires are raging across the Mediterranean. Here’s how climate change drives these events.
HOTTER, MORE FREQUENT HEATWAVES
Climate change makes heatwaves hotter and more frequent. This is the case for most land regions, and has been confirmed by the UN’s global panel of climate scientists (IPCC).
Photo: Bloomberg 照片：彭博社
Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have heated the planet by about 1.2°C since pre-industrial times. That warmer baseline means higher temperatures can be reached during extreme heat events.
But other conditions affect heatwaves too. In Europe, atmospheric circulation is an important factor.
FINGERPRINTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Photo: AP 照片：美聯社
To find out exactly how much climate change affected a specific heatwave, scientists conduct “attribution studies”. Since 2004, more than 400 such studies have been done for extreme weather events, including heat, floods and drought — calculating how much of a role climate change played in each.
This involves simulating the modern climate hundreds of times and comparing it to simulations of a climate without human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
For example, scientists with World Weather Attribution determined that a record-breaking heatwave in western Europe in June 2019 was 100 times more likely to occur now in France and the Netherlands than if humans had not changed the climate.
Photo: Reuters 照片：路透
HEATWAVES WILL STILL GET WORSE
The global average temperature is around 1.2°C warmer than in pre-industrial times. That is already driving extreme heat events.
Temperatures will only cease rising if humans stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Until then, heatwaves are set to worsen. A failure to tackle climate change would see heat extremes escalate even more dangerously.
Countries agreed under the global 2015 Paris Agreement to cut emissions fast enough to limit global warming to 2°C and aim for 1.5°C, to avoid its most dangerous impacts. Current policies would not cut emissions fast enough to meet either goal.
CLIMATE CHANGE DRIVES WILDFIRES
Climate change increases hot and dry conditions that help fires spread faster, burn longer and rage more intensely.
Hotter weather also saps moisture from vegetation, turning it into dry fuel that helps fires to spread.
CLIMATE CHANGE ISN’T THE ONLY FACTOR IN FIRES
Forest management and ignition sources are also important factors. In Europe, more than nine out of 10 fires are ignited by human activities, like arson, disposable barbeques, electricity lines, or littered glass, according to EU data.
Countries, including Spain, face the challenge of shrinking populations in rural areas, as people move to cities, leaving smaller workforces to clear vegetation and avoid “fuel” for forest fires building up.
Some actions can help to limit severe blazes, such as setting controlled fires that mimic the low-intensity fires in natural ecosystem cycles, or introducing gaps within forests to stop blazes rapidly spreading over large areas.
But scientists concur that without steep cuts to the greenhouse gases causing climate change, heatwaves, wildfires, flooding and drought will significantly worsen.
根據二○一五年全球《巴黎協定》，各國同意以足夠快的速度減少排放，以將全球暖化限制在 2°C，並以 1.5°C 為目標，以避免其衝擊達到最危險的地步。目前的政策減少排放的速度不夠快，這兩個目標都無法達到。
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對話 Dialogues 大為：那麼，台灣下不下雪呢？ 美英：只有很高的山上，才下雪。 大為：那夏天的天氣怎麼樣？ 美英：夏天總是又悶又熱，尤其是台北。 Dawei: Well, does it snow in Taiwan? Meiying: Snow only falls in the mountains. Dawei: So, how is the weather in summer? Meiying: It is always humid and hot in summer, especially in Taipei. 詞彙與短語 Vocabulary & Phrase 那麼 (nàme) well then, so 下雪 (xiàxǔe) to snow 尤其是 (yóuqíshì) particularly, especially 教材音檔 Audio Files 本文內容及音檔來源: 華語簡易通 For more audio files, visit the center’s Web site at: http://mtc.ntnu.edu.tw/book/book-show-6.html 國立臺灣師範大學國語教學中心提供 Provided by NTNU Mandarin Training Center: http://www.mtc.ntnu.edu.tw/ COPYRIGHT © 2022 國立臺灣師範大學國語教學中心 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED