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Summer heatwaves in Europe will be worse than predicted, and cleaner air is to blame

Published May 4th, 2024 9:01AM EDT
Heatwave Canada
Image: mbruxelle/Adobe

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New reports suggest that summer heatwaves in Europe are going to be a lot hotter than previously predicted. The culprit this time? Cleaner air. According to new research featured at the European Geosciences Union, by not taking declining air pollution into account, models won’t be able to predict summer heatwaves reliably.

Instead, the researchers involved say that the cleaner air will allow for “exacerbated summer warming” throughout Western Europe. This is exceptionally troubling, as many Europeans rely on these models to help them determine how they should plan for the future.

By not taking all the data into account, the models are allowing for a chance to see increasingly warm summer heatwaves that create issues for unprepared citizens. Dominik Schumacher and the others involved in the study say that when they looked at observed summer warming in Europe from 1980 to 2022, they noticed that regional models underestimated the actual warming by more than 1 degree Celsius on average.

extreme heat belt could leave many states dryImage source: piyaset / Adobe

Global models did better, only underestimating the average by .5 degrees Celsius overall. Still, the underestimation of these heatwaves has the potential to leave many unprepared and at risk from the increased heat. We’ve already seen reports that many U.S. states will see hotter summers this year, a trend that has continued for several years now as climate change continues to affect our planet.

We can only hope that those reports have already taken into account the cleaner air circulation that these researchers believe is misrepresented in the models that Europe relies on. If they haven’t, then it could mean hotter summer heatwaves in various parts of the world.

Even if you’ve already begun preparing for the summer based on current models, it might not be a bad idea to overprepare a little, just in case things get warmer than the models currently show. The researchers say that regional models in Europe will now be altered to take falling air pollution into account. But that will take some time.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.