July heatwave 'would've been 3C cooler without climate change' warn experts

Britain is set for its hottest day ever as temperatures are predicted to reach 39C (PA)
Experts say climate change contributed to extreme temperatures in July (PA)

The extreme hot weather that gripped Europe in July may have been 3C (5.5F) cooler if climate was not rapidly changing, according to experts.

A new report from World Weather Attribution states there is "extremely little chance" of temperatures reaching record breaking highs if humans had not made an impact on climate.

On July 25, a record-breaking temperature of 38.7C (101.66F) was registered at Cambridge University Botanic Garden - which exceeded the previous UK high of 38.5C (101.3F) set in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003.

Beach-goers shelter enjoy the sunshine by the sea in Camber Sands, southern England on July 25, 2019, during a heatwave in Britain. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
The World Weather Attribution report said heatwave temperatures would only occur around once every 1,000 years without climate change (GETTY)

Temperatures recorded in France and the Netherlands, which went above 40C, would only occur once every 1,000 years without climate change, the report said.

Hot spells similar to the record breaking temperatures experienced in the UK and Germany would only occur around every 50 to 100 years if global warming was not forcing up heat.

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The new study also said every heatwave in Europe since 2003 was found to have been made “much more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change”.

A World Meteorological Organisation report published on Thursday said the July heatwave was “accompanied by dramatic ice melt in Greenland, in the Arctic and on European glaciers”.

People cool down in the fountains of the Trocadero gardens in Paris, Thursday July 25, 2019, when a new all-time high temperature of 42.6 degrees Celsius (108.7 F) hit the French capital. in the background is the Eiffel Tower. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)
Temperatures of over 40C were recorded in France and the Netherlands (AP)

But the latest report said some of the temperatures broken during the recent heatwave had stood since the 1950s “with some stations setting new records that have continuously been monitoring the weather for more than 200 years”, including Oxford.

The authors said: “While the new records made headlines, such extreme temperatures are dangerous, in particular when prolonged over several days and nights".

They added that heatwaves can “increase mortality” and “pose a substantial risk to human health and are potentially lethal”.

A man and his dog walk without a shirt in the summer heat on Thursday, July 25, 2019 in the city of Egmond, northern Netherlands. The Netherlands saw record high temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius as Europe faces another heatwave. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
The Netherlands also saw record high temperatures of over 40C in July (AP)

The danger to life posed by heatwaves is aggravated by an ageing population and more people living in cities where temperatures can be higher, according to the researchers.

The elderly, who are living alone in increasing numbers, are among the most vulnerable to extreme heat conditions.

The report read: “Heatwaves are known to increase mortality, especially among those with existing respiratory illnesses and cardio-vascular disease."

Two sunbathers sit and watch the sea on the sandy beach at Camber Sands, England, Thursday, July 25, 2019. Paris, London and places across Europe are sweltering under all-time high temperatures or near-record heat Thursday as the second heat wave this summer bakes the continent. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Europe experienced all-time high temperatures or near-record heat across the continent in July (AP)

Oxford University climate researcher Dr Friederike Otto, who worked on the paper, said urbanisation makes heatwaves more severe as less space is taken up by forests and greenery.

This also means more people are exposed to the higher temperatures typically experienced in cities

The June and July heatwaves were caused in part by a low-pressure weather system developing offshore

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