Thursday, December 18, 2014

Europe's record hot year made at least 35 times more likely by climate change, say scientists

Dec. 17, 2014
Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent

This year is on track to be the warmest ever recorded in Europe, and greenhouse gas emissions played a major role, according to new research. Scientists have analysed centuries of temperature records to conclude that this year’s warmth was made at least 35 times more likely because of climate change.

In the UK, this year’s weather included an unusually warm beginning to autumn, with hot sunny days continuing into late October. A team of researchers at Oxford found that the odds of such a warm year in this country had increased by a factor of 10.

Scientists from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University found that the likelihood of such warm temperatures across Europe was 35 to 80 times greater because of climate change.

Myles Allen, professor at Oxford University, told the Guardian that his group was working on much smaller areas than the other researchers, and was still able to detect a clear signal of climate change. “We are using regional climate models to zoom in on smaller areas than the other groups, and it is interesting that even on the scale of the UK, we are seeing a substantial impact of human influence on climate on the odds of such a warm year,” he said.


A slowdown in the pace of China’s economic growth was to some extent responsible, along with increasing use of renewable energy. But amidst the decrease in emissions growth, there have been opposing signs: in the US, where the shale gas boom has driven down carbon emissions for several years, a swing back to coal – as gas prices have risen – pushed up emissions growth to 2.5% in 2013. Europe’s greenhouse gases fell by 1.4%.


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