Winter heatwaves could become ‘more and more normal’, climatologists say, as temperatures soar 15C above average.
A winter heatwave is bringing historically high temperatures to Chile.
“Having temperatures of 37 degrees in the middle of southern winter is extraordinary,” says Raul Cordero, a climatologist at the University of Santiago. “It is a temperature anomaly of almost 15 degrees above typical values.”
The phenomenon is a “window” to an increasingly warm future, according to scientists.
“Unfortunately it is not a local problem, it is a global problem,” Cordero continues.
Globally, July was the hottest month on record and, in many places, this extreme weather has continued into August.
Chile is experiencing spring-like weather in winter
The first days of August brought a heatwave to parts of northern and central Chile, with Santiago experiencing spring-like weather in the middle of winter.
“In a way, this is a window into the future, we are seeing conditions that are going to normalise,” says Martin Jacques, a climatologist and professor at Chile’s University of Concepcion. “What now seems very extreme could gradually become more and more normal in a few years.”
Jacques says that while some of the temperature increase is expected during this time of the year due to atmospheric circulation, these extreme temperatures have been exacerbated by El Nino– when waters in the central and eastern Pacific are warmer than usual – and an increasingly warming planet.
He adds that while it’s often hard to establish a connection between extreme weather events and climate change, temperatures in parts of Chile have been breaking records year after year.
“It’s a pretty robust sign of warming,” Jacques says. “The connection between temperature and long-term climate change is much more evident.”
Chile also faced intense rainstorms this winter
The winter season has been eventful in Chile, with the most intense rainstorms in decades leaving thousands homeless, isolated towns and blocked roads in the south-central area of the country.
Many hope the rains would help the replenish the country’s water reservoirs after more than a decade-long drought, but Jacques describes the situation as “quite fragile” as long as snow in the Andes isn’t being replaced.
“Winter high-temperature events do affect the spring flow rate that can be expected from melt,” Jacques says.
According to the latest service reports, high temperatures in the north and centre of the country will last all week.
Source : euronews