Climate / Earth Science / Science

What’s with this heatwave?

Is the current European heatwave something to do with climate change?

Answer: yes. Let’s leave aside for now the issue of whether or not you believe in anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change. The fact remains that the climate is changing. We know that the poles are melting — even the permafrost (the clue’s in the name) is melting. This is serious, and it’s not some far away problem that’s only affecting a few emaciated polar bears.

One of the big drivers of weather is the meeting of hot air from the Equatorial regions and cold air from the poles. One of the results is the jet stream, which normally circulates air around the Northern hemisphere.

Or rather, it normally does. Right now, it’s stalled. The air isn’t moving, so we’re stuck with pockets of high pressure, and weather which is cloudless, windless and hot. This isn’t just normal summer weather. There’s a reason for the saying in the UK that summer is “three fine days and a thunderstorm”. Normally, the jet stream keeps everything circulating and thus keeps the weather changeable.

So yep. Climate change is exactly why you need an extra fan from the loft (or in my little household’s case, from the store — we only had one before) and a ton of ice in the freezer. Whether you’re glorying in the hot weather or crying in a corner, that’s something to be concerned about — if nothing else, are we ready for this?

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