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Europe fries in a heat wave made ‘more intense by climate change’

Europe fries in a heat wave made ‘more intense by climate change’

Fires, floods and roasting temperatures hit Europe from Finland to Sicily.

Europe roasted under one of its worst heat waves in decades on Monday, as scientists and governments prepared to sign off on a major new warning about the severity of climate change.

Temperatures in Greece were forecast to approach Europe’s all-time record of 48 degrees and wildfires raged in Turkey, Greece, Italy and Finland.

While parts of Europe burned, negotiations between governments and scientists over the final wording of a major compilation of the last seven years of climate science were taking place online.

The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth Assessment Report, to be released on August 9, is expected to draw clearer conclusions than ever before about the links between climate change and extreme weather, such as heat waves.

The IPCC produces major summaries of the state of climate science roughly every six or seven years. The first section of the sixth edition comes amid a barrage of extreme weather events across Europe, Africa, Asia and North America, which have been linked to climate change.

Ed Hawkins, a climatologist and lead author of the report, said recent events would “hopefully provide some context for the world that we are moving towards.”

Assigning blame

On Friday, the panel signed off on a section that draws on the emerging field of attribution science, which allows scientists to identify the human fingerprint in heat waves, floods and other extreme events. It represents a profound shift in the level of certainty and detail for single destructive events.

“Every heat wave that is happening today is made more likely and more intense by climate change,” said Friederike Otto, associate director of the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, and the lead author on the IPCC report who has pioneered research in the attribution field.
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