The arrival of "non-linear" extreme weather events

  Text/Liu Cui

  Issued in China News Weekly, No. 1008, 2021.8.16

  From the extreme rainstorms and floods in Germany and China to the record high temperatures in North America and Siberia and the continuous wildfires, since 2021, the successive extreme weather events around the world have created a sense of disillusionment.

In this regard, many scientists believe that this year's series of extreme weather events did not exist in isolation. They are actually different manifestations of the destruction of the global climate system and global warming.

  Fire and water

  The rare torrential rains and floods that swept through Western European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium in July 2021 plunged Europe, which had just breathed out of the epidemic, into disaster again.

So far, the number of people killed in this flood has risen to 199, and hundreds of people remain unaccounted for, and there is little hope of survival.

  According to the prediction of the German Insurance Association, the insurance compensation for the German disaster may reach about 4.5 billion euros.

Although it is not possible to finally estimate the total economic losses caused by the European floods, it will be a staggering bill in any case.

  This summer, the west coast of the United States and the vast areas of western Canada are suffering from high temperature grilling.

On July 10, in Death Valley, California, the temperature reached an astonishing 54.4 degrees Celsius.

This temperature immediately became the highest temperature in the world since mankind has the ability to record scientifically and accurately.

  Even the small town of Litton in British Columbia, Canada, which has always had a cool and pleasant climate, set a record high of 49.6 degrees Celsius on June 29.

It is estimated that the death toll caused by extreme weather in Canada this summer has reached about 500, and the death toll related to the United States has reached 200.

  The continuous hot and dry weather not only caused severe droughts in the northwestern United States, but also caused many forest fires.

Statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) show that there are still 78 large-scale wildfires spreading in 13 US states.

The most serious of these is the wildfire near California in southern Oregon.

The fire lasted for two weeks, engulfing approximately 390,000 hectares of forest and land, more than the urban area of ​​Los Angeles, and was the worst forest fire in the history of the United States.

  North America is not the only region experiencing extreme heat.

The Russian capital Moscow also ushered in a high temperature of 34.8 degrees Celsius, breaking the local record for the highest temperature in June since 1901.

The Saka region of Eastern Siberia in Russia, which often reaches minus 50 degrees Celsius and is famous for its extreme cold, has recently reached a record high temperature of 30 degrees Celsius, while the Gorny District of the Saka region has a temperature of 39 degrees Celsius. , Setting a record for the highest temperature in the Arctic Circle.

  Extremely high temperatures have also triggered fires in Siberia.

In July of this year, 187 forest fires continued to burn in the area.

The black smoke formed by the forest fires in Siberia in Russia and the forest fires in North America gradually gathered in North America and spread from the central and western regions of North America to the eastern coastal areas.

According to relevant monitoring, black smoke has covered an area of ​​approximately 6,000 square miles in the northern hemisphere, which has a great negative impact on the air and the environment.

Not a single accident

  Scientists believe that extreme weather is interrelated. Extreme weather events in one area are often accompanied by extreme weather events in other areas.

  According to the research and analysis of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the global average temperature in 2020 is 1.2 degrees Celsius higher than when the industrial revolution began in the 19th century.

And this kind of temperature rise is not equal in different regions-the temperature rise in the Arctic region is three times faster than in other regions.

This imbalance has caused serious obstruction of the high-speed airflow belt that has a great impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere.

  Hayley Fowler, an expert on the impact of climate change at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, explained: “As the temperature in the Arctic increases, the temperature difference between the latitudes of the northern hemisphere becomes smaller, which destroys the high-speed airflow belt and reduces the operating speed. Coupled with the increase in temperature, the atmosphere absorbs more water, which leads to more frequent extreme rainstorms."

  It has been found in existing scientific research that as the climate warms, extreme rainstorms will become more frequent.

Relevant studies have shown that for every 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature, the amount of water that can be absorbed in the air will increase by an average of 7%.

The result of this is that heavy rains can bring extreme rainfall in a short period of time.

  Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, a well-known climatologist and geophysicist, further explained: “When the high-speed air stream becomes faltering, the high-pressure system and low-pressure system will increase, and Being trapped in one place, and the result of this is that the high temperature and drought associated with the high-pressure system and the heavy rain associated with the low-pressure system will continue to occur in the same place."

  Some scholars have even put forward such a theory: The recent series of extreme weather events are signals that the global climate system has entered a dangerous state.

We have not been able to see a gentle and gradual increase in temperature, nor have we been able to see the slow development of extreme weather events, because researchers have found that we are seeing a series of "non-linear" extreme weather events, just like dominoes. Effect, linking extreme events such as drought, high temperature, and heavy rain.

  Although climate experts pointed out long ago that the global climate crisis will bring more frequent storms, floods, and extreme heat to the earth, these extreme weather events that have occurred recently have also been "extreme" to the point that scientists have exceeded their expectations. They are far from predicting that extreme weather events will be so frequent and so severe.

  Even climate experts who have devoted their life to studying extreme weather events are surprised by the frequency, scale, and destructiveness of these extreme weather events in recent times.

Professor Chris Rapley, who is engaged in meteorological science research at University College London (UCL), said: "I think what I can represent for many meteorological scientists is that we are shocked by what we see." He went on to explain. Said: "The frequency of extreme weather events has changed dramatically."

  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also reached a clear conclusion: with global warming, extreme weather phenomena will occur more frequently.

"We must know that we have initiated an irreversible climate change", Professor François Gomoni, one of the main authors of the IPCC report, pointed out, "The particularity that we call'extreme' has been gradually Normalization, and the climate that we used to take for granted in the past is gone. There is no vaccine to prevent climate change."

No matter how you escape, you can’t be absolutely safe

  It seems that global extreme weather events will gradually become a new normal, which has sounded the alarm for us-tackling global climate change is no longer a long-term plan, but an urgent priority.

The disaster of climate change is by no means a one-time misfortune, but a destructive result of human activities around the world day after day. Human beings will pay a heavy price for their recklessness and indifference.

  The Economist magazine recently painted a desperate picture of global warming: In the next few decades, if the global temperature rises by 3 degrees Celsius above the level before the industrial revolution in the 19th century, even if everyone strictly observes today Our commitment to improving the problem of global warming, large areas of tropical regions on the earth will also be too hot to be able to engage in any outdoor activities, coral reefs and the marine ecosystems that depend on them will disappear, and the Amazon rainforest will also become It's barren.

Severe crop failures will be the norm. The icebergs near Antarctica and Greenland will be gone forever. We will be greeted by the unit "meter" instead of "millimeter" to measure the degree of sea level rise.

  On August 9th, the IPCC released the report of the Working Group 1 of the Sixth Assessment Report. The report contained a description of the "climate tipping point" and pointed out that once the climate tipping point is breached, it may cause complex extreme weather events. Destructive effects included.

It will become a guiding document for governments to formulate policies on the environment, greenhouse gas emissions, infrastructure construction, and public services.

  When talking about how humans are acting to deal with the effects of global warming and extreme weather, Dr. Friedrich Otto, deputy director of the Institute of Environmental Change at Oxford University and one of the founders of the "Global Weather Attribution" organization, said, Even if every citizen and country can fulfill their agreement to try their best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we can still see more frequent and more significant extreme weather events.

Therefore, she suggested that in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we should also invest in and work on how society can adjust and adapt to future extreme weather events.

  Corinna Raquel, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, said: “Global warming is a subject that has been widely studied, but now we really see is believing.” In the face of the recent continuity that has occurred all over the world. Perhaps the most frightening thing about the extreme weather events in China and the devastating damage it brings is that no matter how we escape, in fact, we cannot be absolutely safe; no matter how we feel outside the incident, we are actually in it.

  China News Weekly, Issue 30, 2021

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