A Met Office study published on 18 May 2022 said that climate change has made the chances of record-breaking heatwaves in north-west India and Pakistan over 100 times more likely.
The study shows that the natural probability of a heatwave exceeding the average temperature in 2010 is once in 312 years. In the current climate – accounting for climate change – the probabilities increase to once in every 3.1 years. And by the end of the century, the study – incorporating climate change projections – shows this will increase to once every 1.15 years.
Professor Peter Stott, Met Office Science Fellow in Climate Attribution, said: “With temperatures exceeding 50.0°C in recent days, it is clear the current heatwave is an extreme weather event affecting communities and livelihoods.”
Although a new record is thought likely, climate scientists will have to wait until after the end of the month – when all the temperature records for the April-May period have been collated – to see whether the current heatwave will exceed the levels experienced in 2010.
Dr Nikos Christidis produced the Met Office attribution study. He said: “Spells of heat have always been a feature of the region’s pre-monsoon climate during April and May. However, our study shows that climate change is driving the heat intensity of these spells making record-breaking temperatures 100 times more likely. By the end of the century increasing climate change is likely to drive temperatures of these values on average every year.”