Climate change will trigger harsher and more frequent heat waves in the next 30 years regardless of the amount of Earth-warming carbon dioxide we emit, a study said Thursday.
But targets adopted today for curbing greenhouse gas emissions will determine whether the pattern stabilizes thereafter, or grows even worse.
High temperatures and heat waves in the last decade are widely blamed on climate change that occurred over the last 50 years -- amounting to global warming of about 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 deg Fahrenheit), said the study in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
And they are predicted to become harsher and more frequent as the Earth continues to warm over the course of the 21st century.
Based on climate modelling, the study projects that extreme heat waves like those that hit the United States in 2012 and Australia in 2009 will by 2020 affect about 10 percent of total land area -- double today's figure.
By 2040, it would have quadrupled.
"Over the same period, more extreme events will emerge: five-sigma events which are now essentially absent will cover a small but significant fraction (about three percent) of the global land surface by 2040," said the study.