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REM: Climate change made the dangerous heatwave in West Africa 10 times more likely

The recent humid heatwave in southern West Africa was 10 times more likely due to human-induced climate change, according to a team of top climate researchers from the World Weather Attribution group.

The study suggests that without swift action to move away from fossil fuels, such heatwaves could occur approximately once every two years in the region if global warming reaches 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Creating heat action plans could mitigate the impact of these dangerous heatwaves on vulnerable populations in West Africa, the researchers advise. In February, an exceptionally intense humid heatwave struck West Africa, bringing temperatures typically not seen until later in the year.

February 2024 marked the hottest February on record globally, extending a streak of consecutive record-breaking months. The escalation of heatwaves worldwide is attributed to climate change driven by the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation.

To assess the impact of climate change on West Africa's hot and humid conditions, scientists compared current climate data with pre-industrial levels using rigorous methods. Their analysis focused on a region encompassing several West African nations, including Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and parts of Guinea and Cameroon.