Extreme heat is choking the Northern Hemisphere with record temperatures in several cities

“We sweat like hell.” Yesterday tens of millions of people could repeat that sentence like a mantra in much of the northern hemisphere, from the United States to China, via southern Europe. A sweltering summer is unfolding with extreme temperatures averaging 40 degrees Celsius, a new illustration of the effects of global warming, scientists warn.

According to experts from the European Climate Agency, greenhouse gas emissions are increasing the strength, duration and frequency of heat waves. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noted that “heat waves occur more frequently than ever before in major cities in the United States.”

“Its frequency has steadily increased, from an average of two heat waves a year in the 1960s to six a year in the 2010s and 2020s,” he said.

All over the world, with its 16.5°C, last June was the hottest month on record with a global average 0.5° above the 1991-2020 average, according to the European agency Copernicus and the United States Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists estimate that the high ratings of the current month of July will increase the annual planetary average.

The deaths

According to the World Meteorological Organization, heat is one of the deadliest weather phenomena. In 2022 it caused the deaths of 60,000 people in Europewith 18,000 victims in Italy, the hardest-hit country, said a study published on Monday in Nature Medicine.

The heat wave also increases the risk of wildfires in forested areas. In Palma de Mallorca the fire consumed 5,000 hectares yesterday and forced the evacuation of 4,000 people. In North America this boreal summer was marked by a series of meteorological catastrophes, with their epicenter in Canada where there have been 500 forest fires that are difficult to contain.


In 2022 it caused the deaths of 60,000 people in Europe. Turin, with a heat wave. Photo EFE

These are the temperatures reached in the most affected areas of the planet:

Italy

There are 16 cities on red alert, with highs of up to 36 and 37 ºC. In some areas of Rome the thermometer reached 40°C. It is estimated that tomorrow and the day after tomorrow it will reach 42 and 43°Cbeating the record of 40.5°C Registered in August 2007.

Despite this, around 15,000 pilgrims and tourists, according to the Vatican gendarmerie, gathered in St. Peter’s Square this Sunday to listen to Pope Francis’ Angelus prayer. Among them also François Mbemba, a 29-year-old Congolese priest, who assured that in Rome “it is hotter than in Africa”.

“The heat continues into the night and it is difficult for us to sleep. And because we’re dressed in black, we sweat like we’re in hell,” he said. In Italy, the Ministry of Health has issued a red alert for several cities in the center of the country.

Both in Bologna and in Florence and Pescara, the mercury column has risen to 39° and could rise in the next few days to 42 or 43°C Tuesday morning, surpassing the record of 40.5°C recorded in August 2007. The Italian meteorological center CNI has called to prepare for “the most intense heat wave of the summer and one of the most intense of all time”.

Medical devices are already being mobilized across the country to care for people suffering from dehydration.

The Ministry of Health has launched the red alert for several cities in the center of the country, including the capital Rome, Bologna, Florence and Pescara, where temperatures between 36-37°C are expected from Sunday (with a thermal sensation of 39 °C) °C)which will increase until reaching a peak towards the beginning of the week.

The island of Sardinia is also on track to mark a new high exceeding the 48.8°C reached on 11 August 2021, which is the highest recorded temperature in Europe.

Spain

In Spain, a peak is expected between this Sunday and Wednesday, when the country has just concluded a week marked by extremely high temperatures, which exceeded 40º mainly in the Canary Islands and Andalusia. Yesterday, in the Balearics, there were areas with values ​​between 38 and 42°C.

The government today issued orange alert warnings for high temperatures (38 to 42 ºC) in large areas of the Iberian peninsula, as well as a red alert (extreme danger) in areas of Andalusia and Tuesday in Aragon, Catalonia and Mallorca. The signs in those areas fluctuated yesterday between 42 and 44 ºC, depending on whether they are rural or urban areas.

Tourists under the heat wave in Seville, Spain.  photo by AFP
Tourists under the heat wave in Seville, Spain. photo by AFP

Greece

In Greece, where temperatures are expected to drop slightly in the coming days, the authorities have decided that the Acropolis of Athens will be closed yesterday for the third consecutive day from 13:00 to 17:00. The whole country is under a heat wave that reaches 40ºC in some regions.

Decreed the closure of the most visited monument in Greece, listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site “for the protection of workers” and “visitors”, according to the Greek Minister of Culture and Sport, Lina Mendoni. Yesterday temperatures between 40°C and 41°C were recorded in areas of the capital. But “the thermal sensation (…) that the body feels is considerably higher”, at the top of the Acropolis, where the Parthenon is located, warned the minister.

United States of America

In the first power, an intense heat wave extends from California to Texas and temperatures are expected to spike this week. In the Southwestern states, millions of people suffered during the week from extreme heat that puts the elderly, construction workers, delivery workers and the homeless at risk.

A firefighter monitors and establishes a controlled burn as the Rabbit Fire ravaged more than 7,500 acres in Moreno Valley, Riverside County, California.  AFP extension
A firefighter monitors and establishes a controlled burn as the Rabbit Fire ravaged more than 7,500 acres in Moreno Valley, Riverside County, California. AFP extension

Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, recorded another day above 43 ºC, according to the US National Weather Service (NWS). Even higher values ​​are expected for the city today. Even Death Valley, California, one of the hottest places on Earth, reached new highs of temperatures yesterday with 54ºC.

There are several active wildfires in Southern California, including one in Riverside County that has burned more than 3,000 acres and forced evacuation orders for residents.

China

Some regions of the Asian giant, including the capital, have suffered for weeks of intense heat combined with heavy rains. the Chinese government issued several warnings for high temperatures, and warned that these could reach highs of up to 45 degrees Celsius in the part-desert Xinjiang region and 39 degrees Celsius in the southern region of Guangxi. In Beijing the mercury column reached 37/38°C.

Japan

For its part, the Japanese meteorological agency has asked for extreme precautions to avoid heat stroke given that 38°C was recorded in Tokyo and between 37 and 38°C in Kyoto. For today, Monday, temperatures between 38 and 39°C are expected.

In the northern city of Akita, the same amount of rain was recorded yesterday as usual in the entire month of July, NHK reported. There were 9,000 displaced people. extreme heat alarm (about 40°C) reaches 20 of the country’s 47 prefectures.

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