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Weather predicted for year 2100 'could be here in 2050' - here's what that means

Querós Bridge, an old medieval bridge submerged under the water of the Susqueda reservoir and refloated during the 2022-23 drought (La Selva, Spain)
Climate change threatens to bring extreme weather such as droughts to Europe some 50 years earlier than originally anticipated. (Alamy)

The scorching weather predicted for the year 2100 could strike Europe up to 50 years earlier, sparking -'mega-droughts' of up to five years' duration, scientists have warned.

Researchers predict that there is a bigger than 10% chance of 2100-style episodes of heat and drought striking between 2050 and 2075.

The research, published in Communications Earth & Environment, was based around simulations using a powerful climate model.

The authors predict end-of-century temperatures will be twice as likely in decades from 2030 under the conditions, based on a moderate warming scenario of 2.25C.

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What is happening now?

The researchers say that climate change is leading to more frequent occurrences of simultaneous extreme weather and climate events, including drought, heat waves, floods, or fires – all of which can cause severe socioeconomic damage.

Other research has shown that climate change is linked to heatwaves and extreme weather events around the world.

The impacts of climate change are already being felt around the world, with the UN attributing extreme weather events to human-induced climate change.

Nasa has said: "More than one-fifth of all humans live in regions that have already seen warming greater than 1.5C in at least one season.

"Climate-related risks were found to be generally higher at lower latitudes and for disadvantaged people and communities."

Global warming from the sun and burning, Heatwave hot sun, Climate change, Heatwave hot sun, Heat stroke
Man-made climate change could bring extreme weather to Europe (Getty)

Matt Williams, co-founder of Greenspark, which works with businesses to improve their environmental impact, said: "Extremely hot days are a natural part of our weather cycle, but recently we’re experiencing more intense heat waves at often unusual times in the year.

"There is evidence to suggest that human activity is increasing the frequency and magnitude of these events. A great deal of evidence suggests that human behaviour is impacting the severity and frequency of heatwaves, flooding, wildfires and other extreme weather events."

What could happen in the next few decades?

The researchers found that norms of heat stress – when air is hot and moist during the day or hot during the night – could already reach a probability of one in 10 by 2030–2039.

By 2050-2074, the probability that extreme heat stress and drought events will occur repeatedly year after year is more than one in 10.

The authors found that the probability that single and compound end-of-the-century extreme above-average sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic will contribute to dry and hot conditions in Europe.

The researchers said that North Atlantic climate variability could increase the frequency of multi-year periods of extreme heat and drought in Europe and that preparedness for such devastating events must increase.

Why is 2100 significant?

Countries around the world are working together to limit warming to 1.5C by 2100, to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

A rise of 1.5C is considered important, because above that level, there will be more heatwaves, extreme weather events, droughts and greater economic losses.

If countries continue on their current path, the world will see sea levels rising by more than two feet by 2100, according to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

To achieve the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5C, global carbon emissions need to be halved by 2030 and reach 'net zero' – where emissions are balanced by carbon absorbed by plants and carbon-capture technology – by 2050.

In 2015, almost 200 countries agreed to an ambitious goal to limit climate change, known as the Paris Agreement or Paris Accord.

Signatories agree to keeping temperature increase "well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels".