European summers will be hotter than predicted because of cleaner air | Science

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A woman cools off with water distributed by the Red Cross charity near the entrance of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, in July 2023. Credit Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP/ Getty Images.

Summers and heatwaves in Europe will be even more sweltering than feared. The regional climate models relied on by planners greatly underestimate summer heat because they don’t factor in more intense sunshine due to falling air pollution, a study has shown.

“If models don’t take air pollution changes into account, they will underestimate the intensity of future heatwaves even more than they underestimate mean summer warming,” says Dominik Schumacher at ETH Zürich in Switzerland. “It’s problematic because a lot of European countries strongly rely on these simulations to plan for the future.”

Running global climate models requires a lot of expensive computer time, so researchers often look only at smaller regions, allowing them to run more detailed models. These higher-resolution regional models are typically relied on by governments, as their projections for specific locations are supposed to be more accurate than global models.

“The regional models are used in many countries…


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