Extreme weather here to stay as deadly storms set to worsen, scientists warn

Extreme weather is set to be the “new normal”, according to scientists.

This year is set to rank among the hottest on record with a warning of more to come.

And Prof Petteri Taalas, the World Meteorological Organisation secretary-general, highlighted that there had been rain “for the first time on record at the peak of the Greenland ice sheet”, heatwaves in the US that reached 54.4C and devastating flooding in Europe and China.

He warned: “Extreme events are the new norm.

“There is mounting scientific evidence that some of these bear the footprint of human induced climate change.”

Heatwaves caused by climate change can trigger fires and flooding – and the rise in sea levels has more than doubled since the 1990s.

A weather statistics report for 2021 was released early to inform crunch talks at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

World leaders have been attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference and were warned the report showed the world was “changing before our eyes”.

Reading University professor Hannah Cloke said: “As a scientist primarily studying floods and heatwaves, I believe 2021 should stand out as something of an annus horribilis.

“The devastating floods in Europe, China and South America, and killer heatwaves and fires in North America and southern Europe for example, ought to serve as a canary in the coal mine to spur faster action to adapt society to the reality of a changing climate.

“This canary also represents thousands of unnecessary deaths and billions of dollars’ worth of destruction.

“I only hope that in Glasgow these facts, which summarise the fates of millions of people, are foremost in the minds of the world’s political leaders.”

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said the findings must be a “turning point”.

Western Europe had its most severe flooding on record this year, with more than 200 deaths in mid-July.

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And 302 people were killed in China as extreme rainfall hit Henan province, causing a record 201.9mm (7.9in) of rain in one hour in its main city, Zhengzhou.

There was also abnormal cold in Texas and parts of Europe, and drought in parts of South America, which hit coffee production in Brazil, and heatwaves reaching 38C in Siberia, triggering widespread wildfires.

Here in the UK the heatwave in July is estimated to have killed between 400 and 800 people and Storm Christoph in January brought one of the wettest three-day periods on record.

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