A blistering heatwave is wreaking havoc all across Europe, breaking heat records in the continent Thursday. Climate scientists warn that this could be the “new normal” for people living in the continent as efforts to impede rising global temperatures show insufficient to create significant impacts.
In particular, the continent is experiencing the effects of a high-pressure system which is drawing hot air from the Sahara desert, a phenomenon that occurred twice this month.
Ryan Maue, a private meteorologist in the US explains that this air is trapped between colder stormy systems and is forming a “little heat dome” over Europe.
“There is a 40% to 50% chance that this will be the warmest July on record. This heatwave is exactly in line with climate change predictions,” said Dr. Karsten Haustein at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.
On Thursday, Paris reached 42.6°C (108.7°F) — by far its hottest temperature on record, according to a tweet by Météo-France.
Meanwhile, The Netherlands reached temperatures of 40.4°C (104.7°F) with Danny Kemp saying on Twitter that The Netherlands “hits [an] all-time high of 41.7 C” noting that the country has broken its national heat record for the third time in the last 24 hours.
Furthermore, the Dutch weather service Weerplaza reported a temperature of 39.3C (102.7F) in the southern city of Eindhoven, breaking a record that had stood for 75 years was broken in the country.
Meanwhile, London broke its July temperature record at Heathrow Airport with a blistering 36.9°C (98.4°F), noting that the country’s all-time temperature record is at risk.
London’s Met Office says in a tweet that it is a possibility that the United Kingdom will break its all-time high temperature of 38.5 degrees Celsius due to the persisting heatwave across the union.
The on-going and increasing temperatures across Europe due to the persisting heatwaves particularly put both the elderly and very young at risk during extreme heat events. Especially those who live or are in places that do not have air conditioning.
From a wider perspective, the repeated reports regarding increasing temperatures in the continent are comparative to reports of the global temperature seeing drastic changes in recent years.
The trend towards record-breaking temperatures is indicative of a warming climate, driven by human activity. Climate change increases the odds that similar extreme heat events will occur throughout the world.
In particular, nine of the 10 warmest years on record since reliable data began in 1880 have occurred since 2005. Meanwhile, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) indicate that global temperatures in 2018 were 1.5°F (0.83°C) warmer than the 1951–1980 mean.
This data complements analyses from the U.K. Met Office and the World Meteorological Organization, which also ranked 2018 among the top 4 warmest years on record.
At the same time, greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels — as well as deforestation and intensive agriculture — have skyrocketed to levels not seen in more than 800,000 years.
The conversation regarding environmental and climate concerns has also seen more prominence not only amongst activists but also from governments across the globe. The current goal is to reduce global emissions, with some promising to become net-zero.
The Paris agreement’s 1.5°C goal aims global emissions of greenhouse gases will have to fall by 45% by 2030 and reach “net zero” by mid-century.
In recent reports, efforts have resulted in the US relying on renewable energy sources more than conventional and CO2-high coal to produce energy in the country for the first time.
Furthermore, a similar report was made in the UK, noting that the country is using nuclear power and renewables such as solar and wind to replace coal, in order to meet the 2030 deadline.
However, a report by the Global Carbon Project and the International Energy Agency indicated that global carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas ticked up in 2018, to the highest levels in recorded history.
More than anything, the report proves that effort needs to be more global rather than focused on highly developed countries to significantly create a change in global rising temperatures.
Peter Inness, a senior research fellow at the University of Reading, said: “The fact that so many recent years have had very high summer temperatures both globally and across Europe is very much in line with what we expect from man-made global warming.”