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It’s difficult to forget the days of sweltering heat and drought that many of us faced these past few summers. As we sat waiting for rain and a little relief, the words “climate change” floated around in our brains like feverish dreams. According to research from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research published this week in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists have concluded that the European and US heatwaves were caused by the slowing of wave-like weather flows in the Northern Hemisphere created by climate change.

clouds, wispy clouds, stratospheric clouds, sky,Photo via Shutterstock

During our most recent extreme heat events, the airflows that regulate temperature and used to bring cool air to the regions become “frozen in their tracks for weeks,” explained lead author of the study, Vladimir Petoukhov. Without the currents to provide relief, the heat just stays, frying the land and causing massive droughts. A difference in Arctic temperature and the areas to the south used to drive the flows which would stretch 1,500 to 2,500 miles across. However, due to human activity and the buildup of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, the Arctic is rapidly heating and weakening the the mechanisms that drive the air currents.

This article stands as a landmark study in the investigation into climate change. Past reports have linked storms, droughts, and other disastrous events to global warming, but had not named a specific process responsible for the catastrophes. While the 32 year period examined may be too short to accurately predict the future of weather patterns in relationship to global warming, the study is a valuable tool in the fight to advocate for sound political and environmental policy.

+ Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Via the Guardian

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