A recent report by the Earth’s Future journal showed that there is an increase in the frequency, severity, and extent of rainfall and heat extremes, known as wet-hot extremes. This alarming trend, which underscores the critical intersection of climate and science, could lead to many catastrophic climate changes and could potentially affect crop production.
The European floods of 2021 serve as an example of the impacts of wet-hot extremes. From July 12 to 15, 2021, the high temperatures and heavy rainfall led to storms attacking many European countries. During that time, buildings collapsed, roads were destroyed, thousands lost their homes, and 200 were killed across the continent.
The phenomenon of wet-hot extremes is expected to become more common than dry-hot conditions, leading to soils drying out, surface runoff, floods, and crop damage. The affected areas are distributed around the globe, with some areas becoming hotter than others and some becoming wetter.
To raise more awareness on the topic and to hear the public’s opinion on it, Real Research, an online survey app, launched a survey on scientists warning about the rise in wet-hot extremes
- 48.64% were extremely concerned about the consequences of the wet-hot weather.
- 83.46% claimed measures can be taken to address these issues.
- Worldwide governments will collaborate to address wet-hot weather risks, said 61.41%
The Rise in Wet-Hot Extremes
In a recent report in the Earth’s Future journal, scientists warned of an increasing frequency, severity, and extent of simultaneous rainfall and heat extremes. This is scientifically known as wet-hot extremes; for every 1-degree Celsius rise in temperature, the air’s moisture-holding capacity increases by 6 to 7%. A hot and humid air would lead to more moisture for precipitation, hence a wet-hot climate.
The awareness of this climate issue was well known among the public, as 91.75% were aware of it. In detail, 48.05% were completely aware of the rise of wet-hot extremes, 43.7% were vaguely aware, and 8.25% weren’t familiar with the topic at all.
Consequences of Wet-Hot Extremes
Wet-hot extreme weather could have major consequences for the climate and environment. During these extremes, the soil dries out because of the heatwaves, which reduces its ability to absorb water. This situation left 48.64% extremely concerned, 43.52% somewhat concerned, only 6.13% not concerned, and a small number of 1.71% not concerned at all.
Due to the soil not being able to absorb the water, subsequent rainfall could be catastrophic as the water wouldn’t penetrate the soil and would instead run along the surface. The surface runoff could lead to flooding, landslides, and crop yield losses.
These challenges could lead to many issues, and 83.46% claimed measures could be taken to address them. 46.77% indicated a somewhat positive outlook, stating they probably believe measures can be taken; 36.69% expressed a strong belief; 11.31% expressed doubt and stated “probably not,” while a small number of 2.23% claimed that measures cannot be taken to address these challenges.
Scientists use a computer system called a climate model to recreate the past climate or predict the future climate. When considering current emissions scenarios, climate models indicated that some regions like South Africa, the Amazon, and some parts of Europe are expected to become drier. On the other hand, many other areas, including the eastern United States, eastern and southern Asia, Australia, and central Africa, will see increased precipitation.
As this issue is global and would affect many areas of the world, 61.41% expected that governments would collaborate to address it. However, a notable percentage of 38.59% opposed it and didn’t expect the governments to collaborate.
Regions vulnerable to “compound climate extremes” include heavily populated areas prone to geological hazards like landslides and mudflows. 70.63% anticipated a food crisis as these areas are significant contributors to global crop products, and 29.37% thought the opposite.
Who Caused This?
A recent Real Research survey showed that 47% believe human activity is the main cause of climate change, and the role of human activities in accelerating temperature imbalances and the rise of wet-hot extremes is seen as somewhat significant by 40.15%. 36.05% saw the human role as very significant, 19.4% claimed it was somewhat insignificant, and 4.4% didn’t put stress on the role of human activities.
The lead author of the report, Haijiang Wu, stated, “If we overlook the risk of compound wet-hot extremes and fail to take sufficient early warning, the impacts on water-food-energy security would be unimaginable.”
Early action is the only way to prevent severe consequences from happening, and 51.05% stated that enough was being done to mitigate these issues. 32.35% claimed that enough was being done to some extent, 9.66% thought that the current actions were enough to a limited extent, and 6.94% didn’t believe the actions were enough at all.
58.6% linked climate change to heat waves and floods, and those issues need to be addressed as soon as possible. The current efforts to address climate change and its impact on weather patterns such as wet-hot extremes were seen as somewhat satisfactory by 35.64%. 34.29% claimed that the efforts were somewhat unsatisfactory, 20.34% were extremely satisfied with the current efforts, and 9.73% were extremely unsatisfied.
|Survey Title||Survey on Scientists Warning About the Rise in Wet-Hot Extremes|
|Duration||September 28 – October 05, 2023|
|Number of Participants||10,000|
|Demographics||Males and females, aged 21 to 99|
|Participating Countries||Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia,… Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.|
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