NEW YORK TIMES SURVEY OF THE HOT SPOTS ON FOUR CONTINENTS

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30 july 2018

How Record Heat Wreaked Havoc on Four Continents

We talked to people who found themselves on the front lines of climate change this year. Here are their stories.

By Somini Sengupta, Tiffany May and Zia ur-Rehman, The New York Times, July 30 2018

Expect more. That’s the verdict of climate scientists to the record-high temperatures this spring and summer in vastly different climate zones.

The contiguous United States had its hottest month of May and the third-hottest month of June. Japan was walloped by record triple-digit temperatures, killing at least 86 people in what its meteorological agency bluntly called a “disaster.” And weather stations logged record-high temperatures on the edge of the Sahara and above the Arctic Circle.

Is it because of climate change? Scientists with the World Weather Attribution project concluded in a study released Friday that the likelihood of the heat wave currently baking Northern Europe is “more than two times higher today than if human activities had not altered climate.”

While attribution studies are not yet available for other record-heat episodes this year, scientists say there’s little doubt that the ratcheting up of global greenhouse gases makes heat waves more frequent and more intense.

Elena Manaenkova, deputy head of the World Meteorological Organization, said this year was “shaping up to be one of the hottest years on record” and that the extreme heat recorded so far was not surprising in light of climate change.

“This is not a future scenario,” she said. “It is happening now.”

What was it like to be in these really different places on these really hot days? We asked people. Here’s what we learned.

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