Climate change this summer caused temperatures to rise and created soil conditions that made droughts at least 20 times more likely in the northern hemisphere, according to a new study.
An analysis found greenhouse gas emissions played a key role in warming, making the summer of 2022 one of the hottest on record in Europe.
The scientists have calculated that in today’s climate, which has warmed by 1.2 degrees due to emissions, such a drought can be expected about every 20 years.
The experts said if humans hadn’t been warming the planet, droughts in the Northern Hemisphere would only have been expected about once in 400 years or less.
In Europe, this drought would have happened about once every 60-80 years, they added.
Sonia Seneviratne, Professor at the Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, said: “We need to phase out fossil fuel burning if we are to stabilize climate conditions and avoid further worsening of these drought events with any further increase in global warming become more frequent and intense.”
More than 24,000 heat-related deaths have been recorded on the continent this year, while fires in Europe have been the worst on record.
The resulting drought caused widespread water shortages and crop failures, affecting power supplies.
Friederike Otto, Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute – Climate change and the environment, Imperial College London, said: “Drought conditions have resulted in reduced harvests in Europe.
“This was of particular concern as it followed a climate change-induced heatwave in South Asia that also devastated crops and came at a time when global food prices were already extremely high due to the war in Ukraine.”
An international team of climate scientists from the World Weather Attribution Group analyzed soil moisture over much of the northern hemisphere in June, July and August 2022.
They focused on moisture readings for the top 7 cm of soil to measure surface dryness and the top 100 cm.
The top 100cm, known as the root zone, is important for the plants as this is where they draw water.
Soil moisture aridity in this soil region is often referred to as agricultural and ecological drought.
The scientists also analyzed weather data and computer simulations to compare today’s climate with the climate of the 19th century.
Based on the results, experts estimate that human-caused climate change has made surface drought at least five times more likely and agricultural and environmental drought at least 20 times more likely.
In Europe, the researchers said, warming made surface droughts about five to six times more likely and agricultural and environmental droughts about three to four times more likely.
https://www.independent.ie/news/environment/climate-change-made-summer-drought-20-times-more-likely-in-northern-hemisphere-42044139.html Climate change made “summer drought 20 times more likely in northern hemisphere”