North America's record heatwave "Virtually impossible without climate change"

Watch as Laura explains more on Good Morning Britain earlier this week

You will remember last weeks heatwave in Canada and parts of America, scientists have been looking into the role Climate Change played in this.

A big ‘heat dome’ that affected millions of Americans and Canadians caused by a "blocking area of high pressure" or "omega block" basically a big high pressure that didn’t move. It caused local daily, monthly and station temperature records to be broken in western America before the heat moved north and arrived in western Canada.

In Lytton, British Columbia, Canada the temperature climbed and climbed and they broke the all-time Canada temperature record, not once but three days in a row. The temperature peaked at 49.6C (121.3F). The highest temperature ever recorded. To put that into perspective that is higher than any temperature ever recorded in Las Vegas (47.8C in 1931) which is well known for its heat!

Structures destroyed by wildfire are seen in Lytton, British Columbia Credit: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP

The next day wildfires ravaged Lytton, destroying 90% of the town. Officials say several hundred people were killed by the heat, and that number is unfortunately expected to rise. Canada's previous national record was 45C. They broke the record by nearly 5 degrees. Let me put that into perspective, Usain Bolt's 100m world record is 9.58 seconds, when/if that is broken, it will be by many just milliseconds or hundredths of a second, not many seconds. It’s the same with temperature records, if they are broken it’s usually by 10ths of a degree not whole degrees, it is truly unprecedented!

Overnight 27 climate scientists from the World Weather Attribution network said that last week’s record-breaking heatwave in Canada and parts of America would have been virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused climate change, so no industrial revolution and no extra greenhouse gasses. The scientists found that climate change made the heatwave at least 150 times more likely to happen!

But under our current climate where the world has already warmed over 1 degree (since pre-industrial times) the chances of having temperatures this high is one in a 1,000-year event in today's climate and if we continue to warm as we are by 2050 the report says we could experience these heatwaves every 5-10 years! What we had last week was unprecedented!

The current once in 1000 year heatwave in the Pacific Northwest was then either incredibly bad luck, or science still hasn't grasped the extent to which climate change is impacting such extreme weather. The latter is the favoured conclusion of some of the authors of the paper.

The scientists said "Our results provide a strong warning: our rapidly warming climate is bringing us into uncharted territory that has significant consequences for health, well-being, and livelihoods. Adaptation and mitigation are urgently needed to prepare societies for a very different future,"

What we do know from the paper is that it's clear that climate change is making "every" heatwave more intense.

Lapland, located inside the Arctic Circle, experienced it's highest temperature on record on Monday5th July 2021 Credit: ITV Weather

It’s not just the NW Pacific where we’ve had record temperatures We've seen many temperature records across the World this Summer from Northern Africa and Europe to The Arctic circle and earlier this week Lapland recorded it's highest temperatures in over 100 years reaching 33.6C! Meteorologists there are calling it Exceptional!