Climate change has led to a deadly winter heatwave in South America, study says

Climate change has led to a deadly winter heatwave in South America, study says

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Global warming was the main driver of the heat wave that swept South America through much of August and September and sent temperatures rising by as much as 4.3 degrees Celsius, a study published on Tuesday showed.

The study by the global scientific group said temperatures rose above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in large parts of Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina in late winter and continued into the Southern Hemisphere spring, with climate change making the event 100 times more likely. Weather attribution.

The study said that at least four deaths due to heat have been reported in Sao Paulo, the largest city in South America, but it will likely take months to determine the true number of deaths through analysis of death certificates.

“Heat kills, especially in the spring, before people adapt to it,” said Julie Arrighi, co-author of the study and director of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre. “Temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius in early spring are incredibly extreme.” .

The study was produced by dozens of researchers from universities and meteorological agencies around the world.

Homeless Danilo da Silva uses a fountain to cool off and wash himself, during a heat wave in the Anhangabau Valley, in central Sao Paulo, Brazil on September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Amanda Berubili/File image obtained by license

The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service said last week that this year is on track to be the world’s hottest on record.

Summer heat waves recorded in the Northern Hemisphere – including the United States, Europe and China – will be major contributors to this record.

What is most surprising is that South America experiences extremely high temperatures in winter, said Gareth Redmond-King, a climate expert at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit in London. Redmond King was not involved in the study.

The appearance of the El Niño climate phenomenon this year also helped raise temperatures, but it was a minor factor compared to climate change, the study said.

The study warned that if global warming reaches two degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average, similar heat waves are expected to occur in the region every five or six years.

The United Nations warned last month that countries were not doing enough to tackle climate change, and that current national climate targets put the world on track for a temperature rise of 2.5 degrees Celsius.

Jake Spring reports. Edited by Jonathan Oatis

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Jake Spring reports primarily on forests, climate diplomacy, carbon markets and climate science. Based in Brazil, his investigative reporting on the destruction of the Amazon rainforest under former President Jair Bolsonaro won the 2021 Latin American Best Reporting Award from the Foreign Press Club of America ( Award-2021/). His successful reporting on environmental devastation in Brazil won a Covering Climate Now award and was honored by the Society of Environmental Journalists. He joined Reuters in 2014 in China, where he previously served as editor-in-chief of the China Economic Review. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Brazilian Portuguese.

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