So far, however, the evidence suggests that such events are surprising but not unforeseeable using current models. dr. Fischer led a study last year that showed that global warming, with its seemingly small increases in average temperatures, also increases the likelihood of shattering heat records by large margins.
As with floods, droughts and other extremes, the question is whether policymakers will use this knowledge to better prepare in advance.
“There are circumstances that usually turn these hazards into disasters, and these conditions are man-made,” said Emmanuel Raju, an associate professor of public health at the University of Copenhagen and another author of the report on Britain’s heat. These conditions include poor planning and lack of consideration for vulnerable groups such as the homeless, said Dr. raju.
Vikki Thompson, a climate scientist at the University of Bristol, led another recent study that found that while extreme heat has become more common worldwide in recent decades, most of it could still be explained by higher average temperatures due to climate change. “They are increasing in intensity, but not faster than the average,” said Dr. Thompson.
But even this rate of increase is putting a strain on countries’ ability to cope. The British Rail System is designed to only operate safely up to 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Most homes are designed to retain heat during frigid winters. Many Brits still see warm weather as a welcome relief from the cold and damp.