The heatwave affecting southern Europe has been going on for months. And it’s about to get worse.
Temperatures have been above 40C in many areas since mid-April.
European heatwave – The latest: Continent could see hottest day on record
But on the Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia, temperatures are expected to rise to 48C in the coming days, possibly breaking the mainlandThe record of 48.8°C was set in August 2021.
These are just temperatures. New data shows that the ground is hotter.
The European Space Agency’s heat-sensing satellite Copernicus has detected surface temperatures above 45 degrees Celsius (shown in deep red in the ESA animation) across large swathes of Italy.
From July 9th to 10th, along the eastern slope of Mount Etna in Sicily, the sun-baked earth temperature exceeded 50 degrees Celsius.
That was in the late morning.Afternoon temperatures will be hotter — and possibly hotter than that heat wave It intensified this week.
read more: Why is Europe hit by the Cerberus heatwave? When will the heat wave end?
Ground temperature is important.
In rural areas, the risk of wildfires increases because vegetation dries out more quickly.
In urban areas, concrete, brick and pavement retain heat at night, so the air is not as cool as in the surrounding countryside.
This is known as the heat island effect, and it increases the risk of death in vulnerable groups.
So why is the heat so intense?
Heat waves are, of course, natural events. In this case, warm air is pushed northward from the Sahara Desert in Africa.
But heat waves are becoming more common, longer lasting and with higher peak temperatures.
Cerberus heatwave: Man ‘falls dead’, people faint
Protracted heat wave sweeps across continent
Extreme heat in Europe killed more than 60,000 people last year
This is the effect of rising background temperature climate changeTemperatures have risen about 1.2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times, with extreme weather patterns locked in.
The warmer-than-normal water temperatures of the Mediterranean also pump additional heat into the surrounding air, acting like a giant radiator.
This year promises to be a hot one. Earlier this month, Earth experienced its warmest three days on record, preliminary data from satellites showed.
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The impact of the El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean has caused the ocean to release additional heat into the atmosphere, but it has not yet reached the globe.
Over the next few months, however, global background temperatures are projected to temporarily increase by 0.2°C.
This year was hot, but 2024 could be even hotter.