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Health - World wide - July 15, 2023

Record-breaking heat bakes US, Europe, China

Industry Desk: Summer has just begun in the NorthernHemisphere but a brutal heat wave is already gripping parts of Europe, Chinaand the United States, where record temperatures expected this weekend are astark illustration of the dangers of a warming climate. Extreme heat advisories have been issued for more than 100 million Americanswith the National Weather Service forecasting particularly dangerou sconditions in Arizona, California, Nevada and Texas.Several European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain andPoland, are also baking in searing temperatures. Greece said its top tourist attraction, the Acropolis, would close during thehottest hours yesterday as temperatures were expected to reach 40 degreesCelsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in Athens.The mercury may soar as high as 48C (118.4F) on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, the European Space Agency said — “potentially the hottesttemperatures ever recorded in Europe.”North Africa has also been sweltering and Morocco’s meteorological serviceissued an extreme heat red alert for southern parts of the country.
Some regions of China, including the capital Beijing, are experiencingsoaring temperatures and a major Chinese power company said its single-daypower generation hit a record high on Monday.Parts of eastern Japan are also expected to reach 38 to 39C (100.4 to 102.2F)on Sunday and Monday, with Japan’s meteorological agency warning temperaturescould reach previous records.Last month was already the hottest June on record, according to the US spaceagency NASA and the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.Extreme weather resulting from a warming climate is “unfortunately becomingthe new normal,” warns Secretary-General Petteri Taalas of the WorldMeteorological Organization (WMO).
Excessive heat is one of the deadliest meteorological events, according tothe WMO. One recent study estimates over 61,000 people died from heat duringEurope’s record-breaking summer last year.- Death Valley -A contributing factor to the higher temperatures this year may be the climatepattern 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 nearthe Equator, and last about nine to 12 months.North America has already seen a series of extreme meteorological events thissummer, with smoke from wildfires that continue to burn out of control inCanada causing extraordinary air pollution across large parts of the UnitedStates.The US northeast, particularly Vermont, has also recently been pummelled bytorrential rains which have caused devastating floods.According to climate scientists, global warming can cause heavier and morefrequent rainfall.Meanwhile, residents of much of the southern United States have beenexperiencing unrelenting high temperatures for weeks.Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, LosAngeles, said the temperature in Death Valley could equal or surpass therecord for the hottest air temperature ever reliably measured on Earth.
The WMO’s official record is 56.7C (134F) recorded in Death Valley, in thesouthern California desert. But that was measured in 1913 and Swain stands bythe figure of 54.4C (130F) from 2020 and 2021.- ‘Exceptionally high’ -The oceans have not been spared from the warm early summer either.Water temperatures off the southern coast of Florida have surpassed 32C(90F), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.As for the Mediterranean, surface temperatures will be “exceptionally high”over the coming days and weeks, the WMO said, exceeding 30C (86F) in someparts, several degrees above average.Warming ocean temperatures can have devastating consequences for aquatic lifeboth in terms of survival and migration and can also negatively impact thefishing industry.
At the other end of the planet, Antarctic sea ice hit its lowest recordedlevel for the month of June.The world has warmed an average of nearly 1.2C (1.9F) since the mid-1800s,unleashing more intense heatwaves, more severe droughts in some areas andstorms made fiercer by rising seas.The WMO’s Taalas said the current heat wave “underlines the increasingurgency of cutting greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and as deeply aspossible.”

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