Climate experts are concerned that the impacts of global heating will be even more drastic than previously thought.
Friederike Otto, a senior climate lecturer at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College London, said: “In Europe and other parts of the world we are seeing more and more record-breaking heatwaves causing extreme temperatures that have become hotter faster than in most climate models.
“It’s a worrying finding that suggests that if carbon emissions are not rapidly cut, the consequences of climate change on extreme heat in Europe, which already is extremely deadly, could be even worse than we previously thought.”
Meteorologists have said the results of this study are “sobering” as they confirm what was previously feared – that climate change is having a large impact on temperatures, making extreme heat more likely.
Fraser Lott, a climate monitoring and attribution scientist at the Met Office, said: “Two years ago, scientists at the UK Met Office found the chance of seeing 40C in the UK was one in 100 in any given year, up from one in 1,000 in the natural climate. It has been sobering to see such an event happen so soon after that study, to see the raw data coming back from our weather stations.
Experts have called for rapid cuts in emissions to prevent the situation from worsening. Extreme heat kills thousands of people across Europe, and it is thought hundreds of excess deaths in the UK were caused by the recent heatwave.
“Heatwaves are the deadliest type of extreme weather event in Europe, killing thousands each year,” said Roop Singh of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. “But they don’t have to be. Many of these deaths are preventable if adequate adaptation plans are in place. Without rapid and comprehensive adaptation and emissions cuts, the situation will only get worse.”