If the World Meteorological Organization confirms it, a few days ago the city of Syracuse, in Italy, broke the temperature record reached in Europe: 48.8 ° C. In an article recently published on a blog from the UK Met Office, the organization’s expert Peter Scott recalled that “climate change is intensifying extreme heat-related weather events.” His team has studied European heat waves for almost two decades: “Our analyzes confirm that these types of events are now five times more likely due to climate change, ” says the scientist. “It cannot be predicted exactly when it will happen, but Europe must prepare for new records to be broken in the coming years, with temperatures even above 50 ° C in areas of the Mediterranean, where the influence of hot air from North Africa is more strong.
“There is a large area of high pressure in the upper atmosphere that affects much of the Mediterranean, as well as North Africa,” explains Chris Almond, a meteorologist with the Global Guidance Unit of the Met Office. “ The high pressure leads to a sinking movement in the atmosphere that compresses the air and heats it, and this added to the heat of the sun can lead to very high temperatures at this time of year. Furthermore, under high pressure the winds tend to be light, so the heat is not dispersed as much, which also helps the conditions to get warmer and warmer. This meteorological situation is not particularly unusual, as high pressures frequently settle in these areas during the summer months. What is unusual is the temperature, which is the result of many factors coming together at the same time. With climate change we are expecting, and we are already seeing, more frequent and severe events ”.
No country is immune
“The prediction that Europe should prepare for temperatures of 50 ° C in the near future should not surprise us,” says Grant Allen, professor of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Manchester, in statements to the Science Media Center. “We are already beginning to see the effects and pace of climate change in our daily lives. Records are being broken more and more often, with extreme weather conditions and impacts including floods, wildfires and heat stress on our vulnerable populations and infrastructure. No country is immune. We not only need to prepare for a dangerous new normal, but a normal that will continually worsen for decades to come as the climate continues to warm as we try to deal with rising global greenhouse gas emissions . “
In addition, the scientist warns, “the impacts of climate change on the frequency of extreme weather events do not scale proportionally with the change in global average temperature; each additional 0.1 ° C change may be worse than the previous change. Its impacts will cost lives and have profound economic consequences. The scale and pace of these impacts must be accompanied by global measures, not only to reduce emissions, but also to remove carbon from the atmosphere ”.
Sources: UK Met Office and Science Media Center