What’s unusual is that the current La Niña event has lasted for two winters now and may even continue into 2023. If that happens, it would only be the third long-running La Niña since 1950.
“Overall, we tend to see more frequent La Niña events, and they tend to be stronger. It’s actually the opposite of what most climate models say,” Klotzbach says. , whether this is a natural variation. “
La Niña has all sorts of effects on the weather, he notes, not just on hurricanes. It can e.g. exacerbate the drought in the southwestern United States. Ultimately, a potent mix of the effects of climate change and natural variations is hammering some parts of the world right now.
If a large number of hurricanes show up in the Atlantic this year, no one knows how likely it is that they will actually land, Pastelok says. But he adds that he hopes people are prepared for the worst, just in case: “With these rising sea levels, I just think the rise will be insane if one of these systems comes up over the east coast.”
But the deadliest weather events in many parts of the world (including the United States) are heat waves, says Friederike Otto, associate professor of climate science at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment.
And this year’s unusually early heat waves – for example in India (where temperatures reached a record 49.2 degrees Celsius in May), France (which recorded its earliest 40-degree day ever), and parts of the United States (where 100 million people have been advised to stay indoors) -are particularly worrying, says Otto. “The health effects are often worse in early heat waves than later in the summer, when our bodies have acclimatized.”
People should make sure they stay hydrated and avoid going out in the hottest part of the day, she advises. If it is not possible to stay cool enough at home, you may be able to access air conditioning in a public building, such as a library. “Take heat really seriously,” Otto says.
It may be time to rethink architecture in places that were previously less accustomed to hot weather, suggests Clare Heaviside, a researcher at University College London’s Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering. Due to the urban heat island effect, heat waves can be several degrees Celsius warmer in cities than in the surrounding areas. Heaviside says this is sometimes exacerbated by air conditioners, which throw heat into the atmosphere while keeping the interior spaces cool.
There are alternative ways to lower the temperature inside buildings, she says: “You can replace the roof with a more reflective roof and it will reduce the local heat island temperature.” In a study from 2019she and a colleague estimated that this could reduce deaths in an urban area with heat islands during a heat wave by 25 percent.
Although man-made climate change is causing heat waves to become more frequent, prolonged and more intense, Otto says, some countries still lack widespread awareness of extreme heat events. “Many of the African countries have no definition of a heat wave, so the weather services do not detect or report if the temperatures are unusual,” she notes.