There are heatwaves, then there’s whatever the hell Europe went through last week. As parts of Spain and Portugal hit the mid-40Cs, 27 weather stations in France recorded their hottest temperatures since records began and wildfires burned across huge areas. Even for a heatwave, these are undeniably extreme conditions.
Fuelled by man-made climate change, since the start of the twenty-first century this kind of extreme event has become much more common. And now meteorologists are warning that the worst is almost certainly yet to come – and that Europe could see 50C summers become the norm.
Flemish weatherman Frank Deboosere told the Brussels Times: ‘Look at what is happening now in Spain and Portugal. If it’s not this year, it’s next year or the year after that they’ll hit 50 degrees there.’
Likewise, during the Europe-wide heatwave last summer, the Met Office warned: ‘Europe will need to prepare for the eventuality of further records being broken, with temperatures above 50.0°C being possible in Europe in future.’
Despite the above warnings, so far Europe hasn’t actually ever hit 50C. The current highest temperature recorded on the continent was 48.8C, which occurred last August in Syracuse, Sicily. But it sounds like it’s only a matter of time – and even more extreme temperatures could have all sorts of knock-on effects, from bigger wildfires to food shortages to wrecking economies that are reliant on tourism.
Let’s hope governments around the world finally start taking serious action to limit these rises before it’s too late, eh?