Europe Heatwave Sends Temperatures Soaring, Forces Governments To Issue Health Warnings

People cool themselves in a public fountain during a heat wave.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

An intense heatwave spreading across Europe has caused governments to issue health alerts to their citizens, with France recording their all-time hottest temperature on Friday, reported the BBC. Temperatures in France reached a record-breaking 45.1 C (113.2 F) on Friday while other countries also recorded sweltering temperatures.

In France, public pools have remained open late into the night to help people combat the heat. Meanwhile, in Germany, people are reportedly freezing water bottles and taking them to bed at night to help keep the heat at bay.

Experts have weighed in on the situation, explaining why Europe is experiencing such intense heat waves. Timothy Hewson, who leads a forecasting team at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), says that heatwaves are not uncommon during the summer months, especially during dryer years when there is less moisture in the soil to evaporate and help cool the ground. However, he warns that rising global temperatures are contributing to this summer’s intense heat.

A climate specialist at the UK’s Meteorological Office, Grahame Madge, added that temperatures worldwide have gone up one degree since pre-industrial times, making extreme weather more likely around the globe.

“Now when we get a heatwave, it is likely to be a degree or so more. They are still extreme events, but they are also becoming more frequent.”

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the 20 warmest years on record since humans began recording daily temperatures have all taken place in the past 22 years with the years 2015 to 2018 accountable for the top four warmest years.

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A report by the World Weather Attribution group looked into rising temperatures across Europe, comparing them with prior records and predicting further trends. The researchers found that after comparing data, the increase in temperatures was likely attributed to human activity that has contributed to climate change. Furthermore, the study calculated that the likelihood of experiencing extreme heat waves is two times higher today than before human activity began altering the climate.

If current trends continue, the World Weather Attribution group warns that extreme heatwaves could occur as frequently as every other year by the 2040s, with an overall three- to five-degree centigrade increase by the year 2100.

Experts have also provided people with a guide on how to stay cool and safe in extreme heat. Among the tips included are staying properly hydrated, wearing loose, light clothing, and making sure the home has proper ventilation by opening windows, closing shutters, and using fans.