Spain will suffer temperatures above 50ºC, the dark omen of artificial intelligence

Southern Europe, Spain included, could regularly experience temperatures above 50ºC. It is one of the omens of the artificial intelligencethat can become a perfect tool to predict the climate future and, consequently, prepare in the best possible way to minimize its impacts.

Sixteen European research institutes have joined forces with climate risk professionals to assess and better predict the influence of climate change on extreme weather conditions using innovative artificial intelligence methods.

This new four-year EU-funded project, called ‘Xaida‘, began in September 2021. Their latest studies have concluded that Anthropogenic climate change makes extreme weather and climate events ‘more likely and more severe’as noted by the Max Planck Society, which participates in the consortium.

“The year 2023 was full of climatic extremes. The global average temperature was 1.48 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average. At the same time, there was heat waves and exceptional droughts, extreme storms and catastrophic rains“, review.

It stands out that starting in June, all months of 2023 were warmer than the corresponding month in previous years since measurement data became available. More: In the second half of the year, temperatures were more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with some days even exceeding 2 degrees.

Malvarrosa beach, in Valencia. EFE / Juan Carlos Cárdenas

The increase in global average temperature also intensified some extreme phenomena, as researchers from the Xaida consortium have discovered. This is the case, for example, of the extreme rainfall of Storm ‘Daniel’, which caused two dams to break in Libya in September. Floods claimed thousands of lives and made ‘Daniel’ the deadliest storm in Africa to date.

Extreme rainfall

“We estimate that extreme precipitation has become at least ten times more likely as a result of climate change” says Friederike Otto, a scientist at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.

More: The amount of precipitation increases during heavy rain because warmer air absorbs more moisture. In addition to the wind speeds up to 322 kilometers per hour, this was one of the reasons why Hurricane ‘Otis’ severely devastated Acapulco (Mexico) in October. According to a team from the French CRNS, ‘Otis’ was an unprecedented event that can be attributed to anthropogenic climate change.

The Xaida consortium partners also analyzed the heat waves that caused temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius in the United States and China in July. Also in the summer of 2023 the south of Europe suffered “exceptionally hot” temperatures and, according to a study by ETH Zurich, in the future it will also beTemperatures above 50 degrees Celsius will be possible here.

“In many parts of the world, exceptionally hot summers are also often very dry, and droughts are also becoming more likely and more severe as a result of climate change. In some cases, this has disastrous consequences for agriculture“, warns the Max Planck Society.

Orihuela fields affected by drought. EFE / Morell

In the last 40 years, heat and drought have reduced crop yields even in the northern hemisphere, as determined by a team from the UFZ Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, also integrated into Xaida.

Some regions in the Global South are even more affected. Syria and Iraq, for example, have been suffering from an exceptional drought for three years. With global warming of 1.2 degrees Celsius, the probability of this happening is already 25 times greater than before the onset of anthropogenic climate change.

Imminent disasters

Regarding the latter reality, a team led by Markus Reichstein, director of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, is developing a method to predict the consequences of extreme events for vegetation, such as crops. To do this, they analyze extensive meteorological, geographical and biological data with the help of artificial intelligence.

The same climate can have very different consequences in different regions“says Reichstein. For example, in 2021 it rained in both Uckermark and the Ahr Valley (both places in Germany). But due to the different geography, there was no disaster in Uckermark, while devastating floods were recorded in Ahr “. Another example: Drought is less likely to affect plants on a north-facing slope in a ravine than on a south-facing slope.

Floods in the Ahr Valley (Germany), in 2021. EFE

“Predictions that take these differences into account require a level of complexity that physical models do not possess,” explains Reichstein. “What’s more, we still don’t fully understand many of the connections.”

However, Artificial intelligence recognizes patterns in data about past heavy rains or droughts that allow predictions about future events. “Aid organizations will then be able to better adapt to this and deploy their resources in a targeted way,” says the climate researcher.

Artificial intelligence is poised to accurately predict where help will be needed and prepare for impending disasters.. Max Planck researchers will initially apply their method in collaboration with the German Red Cross in Somalia and Kenya to help pastoralists better adapt to drought.


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