“We sweat like hell.” Tens of millions of people could repeat that phrase like a mantra yesterday in a good part of the northern hemisphere, from the United States to China, passing through southern Europe. A stifling 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) remarked that “heat waves are occurring more frequently than ever before in the major cities of the United States.”
“Its frequency has increased steadily, from an average of two heat waves a year in the 1960s to six a year in the 2010s and 2020s,” he said.
Worldwide, with its 16.5°C, last June was the warmest month ever recorded with a global average of 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 marks of the current month of July will raise the annual planetary average.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, heat is one of the deadliest weather phenomena. In 2022, it caused the death of 60,000 people in Europewith 18,000 fatalities in Italy, the most affected country, said a study published last Monday in Nature Medicine.
The heat wave also increases the risk of fires in wooded 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 has been marked by a series of meteorological catastrophes, with an epicenter in Canada where there have been there were 500 forest fires that were difficult to contain.
These are the temperatures reached in the most affected areas of the planet:
There are 16 cities on red alert, with highs of up to 36 and 37 ºC. In parts of Rome, the thermometer reached 40°C. It is estimated that tomorrow and the day after it will reach 42 and 43°Cbreaking the record of 40.5°C Registered in August 2007.
Despite this, some 15,000 pilgrims and tourists, according to the Vatican gendarmerie, gathered in Saint Peter’s Square this Sunday to listen to Pope Francis recite the Angelus prayer. Among them was François Mbemba, a 29-year-old Congolese priest, who assured that in Rome “it is hotter than in Africa.”
“The heat continues until night and it’s hard for us to sleep. And since we are dressed in black, we sweat as if we were in hell, ”she maintained. In Italy, the Ministry of Health issued a red alert for several cities in the center of the country.
As much in Bologna as in Florence and Pescara, the mercury climbed to 39° and could go up in the next few days to 42 or 43°C Tuesday morning, breaking the record of 40.5°C registered in August 2007. The Italian meteorological center CNI 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 mobilized throughout the country to care for people suffering from dehydration.
The Ministry of Health issued a red alert for several cities in the center of the country, including the capital Rome, Bologna, Florence and Pescara, where temperatures of between 36-37°C are projected as of Sunday (with a thermal sensation of 39° 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 maximum that exceeds 48.8°C reached on August 11, 2021, which is the highest temperature recorded in Europe.
In Spain, a peak is expected between this Sunday and Wednesday, when the country has just finished a week marked by extremely high temperatures, which exceeded 40º mainly in the Canary Islands and Andalusia. Yesterday, in the Balearic Islands there were areas with marks between 38 and 42°C.
The government issued orange alert notices for high temperatures (38 to 42 ºC) in large areas of the Iberian Peninsula for today, as well as a red alert (extreme danger) in areas of Andalusia and on Tuesday in Aragon, Catalonia and Mallorca. The marks in those areas oscillated yesterday between 42 and 44 ºC, depending on whether they are rural or urban areas.
In Greece, where temperatures are expected to drop slightly in the coming days, the authorities decided that the Acropolis of Athens would remain closed yesterday for the third consecutive day from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The whole country is under a heat wave that in some regions reaches 40ºC.
The closure of the most visited monument in Greece, listed by Unesco as World Heritage, was adopted “to protect workers” and “visitors”, according to the Greek Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni. Yesterday in areas of the capital there were temperatures between 40°C and 41°C. 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.
In the first power, an intense heat wave extends from California to Texas and a peak in temperatures is expected this week. In the southwestern states, millions of people have suffered during the week from the extreme heat that poses a risk to the elderly, construction workers, delivery workers and the homeless.
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. Death Valley, in California, one of the hottest places on Earth, also reached new temperature peaks yesterday with 54ºC.
There are several active fires in southern California, including one in Riverside County that burned more than 3,000 acres and forced evacuation orders for residents.
Some regions of the Asian giant, including the capital, have suffered spells of intense heat combined with heavy rains for weeks. the chinese government issued several alerts for high temperatures, and warned that these could reach maximums of up to 45 degrees in the Xinjiang region, partly desert, and 39 ºC in the southern region of Guangxi. In Beijing the mercury reached 37/38°C.
For its part, the Japanese meteorological agency called for extreme precautions to avoid heat stroke since in Tokyo there was 38 ° C and in Kyoto between 37 and 38 ° C. For today, Monday, marks between 38 and 39°C are expected.
In the city of Akita, in the north, the same amount of rain was registered yesterday than is usual in the entire month of July, NHK reported. There were 9,000 evacuees. extreme heat alert (about 40°C) reaches 20 of the country’s 47 prefectures.