Summer 2023 was the warmest in the north for 2,000 years

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According to a study, last year’s summer was the warmest in northern countries for more than 2,000 years. This is shown by a combination of observational data and reconstructions, according to a report by researchers led by Jan Esper from the University of Mainz in Nature. They analyzed the surface temperatures in June, July, and August in the extratropical regions of the northern hemisphere (30 to 90 degrees north latitude).

The temperature in this part of the northern hemisphere, which includes Europe – was, therefore, 2.07 degrees higher in the summer of 2023 than the average value between 1850 and 1900. The nine longest temperature-dependent tree-ring chronologies were evaluated for the analysis. The scientists restricted themselves to the northern region because less long-term temperature data is available for more southerly countries.

The EU climate change service, Copernicus, reported that the summer of 2023 was the hottest globally since records began in 1940. ‘Our climate is imploding faster than we can cope with extreme weather events that affect every corner of the planet,’ UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said about the data.

The estimates now presented confirm the unprecedented nature of current warming and the need for urgent action to reduce carbon emissions, the researchers said. Climate experts say 2023 may have been the warmest year in thousands of years. Although there were no measurements then, the values can be inferred from analyzing ancient air bubbles trapped in ice, among other things.

Another recent study shows the extent to which older people, in particular, will continue to suffer due to climate change. According to the study, the proportion of people aged 70 or over worldwide exposed to extreme heat could rise from 14 percent today to around 23 percent in 2050. That would be up to 246 million more people than today.

Extreme heat means the maximum daily temperature exceeds 37.5 degrees at least 18 days a year. The study by a group led by Giacomo Falchetta from the Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change Foundation in Venice is presented in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

According to the study, the number of people over 60 is expected to almost double by the middle of the 21st century: from 1.1 billion in 2021 to almost 2.1 billion in 2050. Populations in the Global South, which are growing rapidly and have a low average age, will have a significant proportion of older people by 2050.

Concerning climate change, the reduced ability of older people to regulate their body temperature, their greater number of concomitant diseases, and their dependence on medication that leads to dehydration are particularly problematic.

The study’s authors write that many people over the age of 69 are disproportionately at risk from heat extremes. Reasons include chronic health problems and illnesses, physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities, and social isolation.

Falchetta and colleagues combined the forecasts for developing age structures in different countries with the global warming trends of different greenhouse gas concentration paths. They used the same scenarios and climate models as the sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 2021. In particular, the SSP2-4.5 and SSP5-8.5 scenarios are presented in the study, with the first scenario representing a moderate increase and the second scenario representing a strong increase in the global average temperature.

For 2020, the climate models showed an average of 25 days per year on which the daily maximum temperature in Africa was more than 37.5 degrees. According to SSP2-4.5, this figure will rise to 37 days by 2050 and even 40 days according to SSP5-8.5. In Asia, hot days will increase from 15 to 25 (SSP2-4.5) or 28 (SSP5-8.5).

On these two continents, the majority of people aged 70 or older will be affected by extreme heat. According to the study, Europe’s average temperature of 37.5 degrees will be exceeded in three (SSP2-4.5) to four days (SSP5-8.5) in 2050.

  • source: APA/picture: pixabay.com
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