Monday, November 21, 2016

Hottest Years Will Soon Be the New Normal

Fires in the Blue Mountains during Australia’s record-breaking summer of 2013. (Credit: Gary Hayes via Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
Australian scientists have warned that the world’s hottest years on record, 2015 and 2016, could become the new normal for the planet as early as 2025, if humans go on burning ever more fossil fuels.

Even if humans take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, these high global temperatures will become normal by 2040.  If, by 2035, they have not taken those steps, Australia, in particular, could be experiencing what so far have been record temperatures almost every year.

In a second study, Australian researchers warn that extreme heat waves and bushfires are already on the increase and will become more extreme with the decades.

Hottest years
Last year was, on average, the hottest year the world had ever experienced.  Australia’s hottest year was 2013.  Sophie Lewis of the Australian National University, and colleagues, write in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society that according to their calculations, the new and ever-higher global average temperatures are “locked in” by human activities already taken.  But strong action taken now could still reduce the worst impacts for individual regions of the planet.

“If we continue with business-as-usual emissions, extreme seasons will inevitably become the norm within decades and Australia will be the canary in the coal mine that will experience this change first,” says Dr Lewis.

“That means the record-breaking hot summer of 2013 in Australia – when we saw temperatures approaching 50°C in parts of the country, bushfires striking the Blue Mountains in October, major impacts to our health and infrastructure and a summer that was so hot it became known as the ‘angry summer’ – could be just another average summer season by 2035.”

If on the other hand the nations of the world opted to reduce emissions drastically, then this “new normal” might be delayed beyond the end of the century.

Read more at Hottest Years Will Soon Be the New Normal

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