In July 2022, Europe has become a global hot spot for heat waves, with a notable spike in the past two decades. In the past 42 years, the continent has seen extreme heat waves increasing at a rate three to four times faster than in the rest of the northern latitudes, research shows.
Changes in the jet stream — potentially tied to climate change — have also played a role in increasing the number of heat waves over the past four decades. Typically a relatively strong jet stream, a narrow band of strong winds about 6 to 7 miles above ground, brings cooler air from the North Atlantic Ocean.
For example, scientists with World Weather Attribution determined that a record-breaking heatwave in Western Europe in June 2019 was 100 times more likely to occur now in France and the Netherlands than if humans had not changed the climate but how could be drives can come real changes or even adopt it.
Countries agreed under the global 2015 Paris Agreement to cut emissions fast enough to limit global warming to 2°C and aim for 1.5°C, to avoid its most dangerous impacts. Current policies would not cut emissions fast enough to meet either goal.
A heatwave that occurred once per decade in the pre-industrial era would happen 4.1 times a decade at 1.5°C of warming, and 5.6 times at 2°C, the IPCC says.