Unprecedented heat scorches the US and Europe in record temperatures

Key parts of the US, Europe and China, are expected to see record temperatures over the weekend amid unprecedented heatwaves as summer rolls around in Northern Hemisphere.

Extreme heat advisories have been issued to more than 100 million Americans with the National Weather Service forecasting particularly hazardous conditions in Arizona, California, Nevada and Texas.

Several European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland, are also being grilled in extreme temperatures.

Greece said its top tourist destination, the Acropolis, will be closed during the hottest hours on Friday as temperatures are expected to hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in Athens.

The European Space Agency says mercury can soar as high as 48 degrees Celsius over the islands of Sicily and Sardinia – “possibly the hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe.”

North Africa is also in sweltering conditions, and the Moroccan meteorological agency has issued a red warning of extreme heat for southern parts of the country.

Some parts of China, including the capital Beijing, are experiencing soaring temperatures, and a major Chinese power company said its single-day electricity output hit a record high on Thursday. Monday.

Areas of eastern Japan are also expected to hit temperatures of 38 to 39 degrees Celsius (100.4 to 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday and Monday, with the Japan Meteorological Agency warning that temperatures can reach previous record levels.

Last month was the hottest June on record, according to US space agency NASA and the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) secretary general, Petteri Taalas, warned that extreme weather due to a warming climate “unfortunately becomes the new normal”.

According to the WMO, extreme heat is one of the most dangerous meteorological events. A recent study estimated more than 61,000 people died from heat during a record-breaking summer in Europe last year.

If nothing is done, the heat wave could lead to the death of 90,000 Europeans per year by the end of the century, says the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Dead valley

One contributing factor to higher temperatures this year could be the climate pattern known as El Nino.

El Nino events, which occur every two to seven years, are marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the Equator, and last about nine to 12 months .

North America has seen a series of extreme meteorological events this summer, with smoke from forest fires continues to burn out of control in Canada causing severe air pollution across large swaths of the United States.

The northeastern United States, especially Vermont, has also recently battered by torrential rains caused devastating floods.

According to climate scientists, global warming could cause more and more frequent rainfall.

Meanwhile, residents of much of the southern United States have been experiencing non-stop high temperatures for weeks.

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that Death Valley temperatures could equal or surpass the record for hottest air temperature ever reliably measured on Earth. land.

The official WMO record of 56.7 degrees Celsius was recorded in Death Valley, in the southern California desert. But that was measured in 1913 and Swain stands at 54.4 degrees Celsius between 2020 and 2021.

‘Special high’

The oceans aren’t immune to the early summer heat, either.

Water temperatures off the south coast of Florida have exceeded 32 degrees Celsius, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For the Mediterranean, surface temperatures will be “particularly high” in the coming days and weeks, the WMO said, exceeding 30 degrees Celsius in some areas, several degrees above average.

Warming ocean temperatures could have devastating consequences for aquatic life both in terms of survival and migration and could also negatively impact the fishing industry.

At the other end of the planet, Antarctic sea ice hit its lowest level recorded in June.

The world has warmed by an average of almost 1.2 degrees Celsius since the mid-1800s, causing more intense heat waves, more severe droughts in some areas and more intense storms caused by seawater. offer.

WMO’s Taalas said the current heatwave “underlines the growing urgency of cutting greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and as deeply as possible.”

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