By Laurie Goering
LONDON July 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As Germany and Spain sweated and London sweltered through its hottest July day on record this week, scientists said it is “virtually certain” that climate change is increasing the likelihood of such heat waves in Europe.
In real-time data analysis released on Friday, a team of international climate scientists from universities, meteorological services and research organizations said the kind of heat waves hitting Europe this week – defined as three-day periods of excessive heat – are becoming much more frequent in the region.
In De Bilt in the Netherlands, for example, a heat wave like the one forecast for the next few days would have been a roughly 1-in-30-years event in the 1900s, according to the scientists. It is now likely to happen every three and a half years, they said.
In Mannheim, Germany, a heat wave like that of the last few days would have been a once-in-a-century event in the 1900s, but is now likely to happen about every 15 years, they said.
London also saw its hottest recorded July day on Wednesday, with temperatures at Heathrow Airport hitting 36.7 Celsius, the scientists noted.
As heat waves grow more frequent, “it does resonate with a much wider audience that this is connected to climate change and we’re facing a new normal,” said Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center.
The heat wave analysis, which looked at five European cities, is part of a World Weather Attribution program led by Climate Central, a U.S.-based science journalism organization, and supported by scientists from organizations around the world, including Oxford University, the University of Melbourne, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and van Aalst’s Climate Center.
The program aims to use climate and weather data, forecasting and climate models to show how changing weather patterns