Europe’s searing heatwave breaks temperature records

Europeans have their umbrellas out but not for the rain. This time they’re trying to protect themselves from record heat that is sweeping across continental Europe. Many European cities are not designed for the high heat with air-conditioning not a common addition to most homes.

Whilst the temperatures, exceeding Fahrenheit 100 degrees, are not uncommon in other parts of the world, they are way above seasonal averages for the region. The heat wave is also unusual because of its timing – episodes of intensely hot weather are more common during July and August in Europe.

France has recorded its highest-ever temperature yesterday. The temperature hit 45.9 degrees Celsius in Gallargues-le-Montueux in southern France, according to the French national weather service Météo-France. That’s nearly 2 degrees higher than the previous record in 2003. The 2003 heat wave killed 14,000 people.

Students were told to stay home from some 4,000 French schools that were closed and opening hours of parks and public swimming pools were extended to provide people some respite from the searing heat.

Climate scientists are warning that heat waves are becoming more frequent and increasingly severe because of the climate crisis. Météo-France estimated the frequency of such events is expected to double by 2050.

In Spain, firefighters have been battling a 15,000 acre wildfire near Tarragona in the country’s northeast. The fire has been raging since Wednesday. Firefighters said the blaze was one of the worst in Catalonia in the last 20 years.

This week Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic recorded their highest-ever June temperatures on Wednesday. The German Weather Service said temperature of 38.6 degrees Celsius was recorded on Wednesday in Coschen, on the country’s border with Poland.

Stefan Rahmstorf, co-chairman of Earth system analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and professor at Potsdam University in Germany, says Europeans will just have to get used to more heatwaves in the future and plan accordingly.

“Mounting heatwaves are exactly what climate scientists predicted because of rising global temperatures caused by increases in greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil and gas.”


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