Desert dust from the Sahara dimming the skies, African-like heat making us sweat in Central Europe. Such scenarios are becoming more common, as a study of the University of Graz shows. Andrea Steiner and her doctoral student Mastewesha Engdaw from the Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change show that heat waves over the African continent have become significantly more frequent over the past two decades. "Our results clearly reveal that heat wave occurrences have emerged from natural climate variability in Africa suggesting that they are caused by human-induced climate change," Engdaw summarises. Poorer regions, in particular, are highly vulnerable to extreme weather events. "The industrialised countries are responsible for this development. We have been emitting far more greenhouse gases than for instance Africa," Andrea Steiner explains. "Thus, climate protection measures must be implemented as soon as possible," she urges.
Engdaw and Steiner conducted their research in cooperation with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh within the Doctoral Programme Climate Change funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. The results have been published in the International Journal of Climatology.