[US South Undergoes Massive Heatwave, Made Five Times More Likely by Climate Change] - The Guardian

The record heatwave roiling parts of Texas, Louisiana and Mexico was made at least five times more likely due to human-caused climate change, scientists have found, marking the latest in a series of recent extreme “heat dome” events that have scorched various parts of the world.

A stubborn ridge of high pressure has settled over Mexico and a broad swath of the southern US over the past three weeks, pushing the heat index, a combination of temperature and humidity, to above 48C (120F) in some places.

More than 40 million people in the US, including those living in the Texas cities of Houston, San Antonio and Austin, have been placed under excessive heat warnings, raising fears over the health of people vulnerable to the heat and placing Texas’s energy grid under strain from surging air conditioner use.

The heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans by the burning of fossil fuels made the extreme heatwave at least five times more likely, according to a recent analysis by Climate Central, a climate science non-profit. The punishing heat, which is forecast to linger further throughout the week in Texas, is creating “stressful conditions for millions of people”, according to Andrew Pershing, vice-president for science at Climate Central.

[The] southern part of Texas will probably have one of its hottest Junes ever recorded as it is most acutely affected by the heat dome that has its epicenter in Mexico – the Mexican cities of Monclova and Chihuahua have set all-time record temperatures of of 46C (115F) and 41C (107F), respectively.

Extreme heat dome events have caused heightened temperatures across the world in recent times, such as the record heat and wildfires seen in May in western Canada, or the historic heat experienced in locations as varied as Puerto Rico and Siberia earlier this month.

Scientists have calculated that the climate crisis made that heatwave 150 times more likely, with heat domes becoming ever more dangerous as the planet heats up. Limiting global heating to 1.5C (2.7F) above pre-industrial times, instead of 2C (3.6F), would halve the number of people exposed to the sort of severe heat dome conditions that caused such distress in 2021, a study has found.

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The Guardian

Locations: Texas Louisiana Mexico Houston, TX San Antonio, TX Austin, TX Monclova, Mexico Chihuahua, Mexico Canada Puerto Rico Siberia 

Organizations: Climate Central 

People: Andrew Pershing 

Tags: Extreme Heat Climate Change 

Type: Headlines