Climate scientists have long warned that global warming would lead to extreme heat in many parts of the world. But the 120 degree Fahrenheit temperatures brought on by the heatwave in the Pacific Northwest in June were more in line with what researchers had imagined would occur later this century. “Astonished” is the word Michael Wehner, an extreme weather researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, used to describe his reaction to the heat in an interview with National Geographic. He was one of two dozen extreme weather and climate researchers who conducted an analysis in the days following the heatwave that found it would not have occurred in the absence of anthropogenic climate change.
“We said it is virtually impossible without climate change,” Wehner said of the event. “But I would have said beforehand it is virtually impossible with climate change.”
As more seemingly impossible events followed — intense flooding in Germany and Belgium killed more than 200 and counting, a massive wildfire in Oregon grew by 1,000 acres per hour, and a year’s worth of rain fell on central China in just three days — news outlets began reporting on rese... Read more