Half-a-degree increase in global warming, altered weather in many countries

New Delhi: Researchers have reported on Friday that the reason behind increasing heat waves in several regions on Earth is an outcome of a slight change of temperature. The global warming has increased by a half unit.

On comparing of two 20-year periods — 1960-79 and 1991-2010 — between which average global temperatures rose by 0.5 C (0.9 F), scientists found that several kinds of extreme weather gained in duration and intensity, reported in HT.

The maximum temperatures in summer increased by more than 1 C (1.8 F) across a quarter of Earth’s land areas, while the coldest winter temperatures warmed by more than 2.5 C (4.5 F). Whereas, the duration of hot spells, a fuel for forest fires, has lengthened by a week in half of land areas. The data according to a study, was published in the journal ‘Nature Climate Change’.

“We have to rely on climate models to predict the future,” said lead author Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.“But given that we now have observational evidence of around 1 C warming, we can also look at the real-life impacts this warming has brought,” he added.

What can 0.5 degree increase do?

Global warming is a result of the burning of fossil fuel, cutting of trees, increase in the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. “With the warming the world has already experienced, we can see very clearly that a difference of 0.5 C really does matter,” said co-author Erich Fischer, a scientist at ETH Zurich in Switzerland.

Earlier research based on computer models, also led by Schleussner, concluded that 2 C of warming would double the severity of crop failures, water shortages and heat waves in many regions of the world.

It also found that holding the rise in temperature to 1.5 C would give coral reefs — the cornerstone of ecosystems that sustain half-a-billion people and a quarter of marine wildlife — a fighting chance of adapting to warmer and more acidic seas.

An extra half-a-degree on top, however, would expose most reefs to possible extinction by century’s end.