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Temperatures in UK top 100 F for first time during European heat wave

Temperatures in UK top 100 F for first time during European heat wave

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On August 10, 2003, the United Kingdom records its first-ever temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Throughout the month, an intense heat wave scorched the European continent, claiming more than 35,000 lives.

August 2003 was the hottest August ever recorded in the northern hemisphere and broke all previous records for heat-related deaths. France was the worst hit, with almost 15,000 victims, followed by Germany, where approximately 7,000 people died. Thousands also died in Spain and Italy. A majority of the victims were elderly, very young, or chronically ill.

When a person experiences extreme heat, their bodies can struggle to cool themselves—which can prove especially dangerous in the very old, very young or already ill. If a person’s internal body temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the organs can began to fail and the person can eventually die. The Washington, D.C.-based Earth Policy Institute estimates that more people die every year from heat than floods, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.

In addition to directly causing deaths, the extreme heat also caused massive fires. In Portugal, 10 percent of the country’s forests were destroyed and 18 people were killed in the fires. The heat also caused glacial melt, flash floods and avalanches in Switzerland.

Scientists project that, because of global warming, the earth’s average temperature will continue to rise, reaching 42.44 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, a gain of 2.5 degrees. Because of this, the World Meteorological Organization predicts that the number of annual heat-related deaths might double by 2023. Most researchers agree that the only way to stop the slow rise in global temperatures is to reduce levels of the carbon-dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

READ MORE: When Global Warming Was Revealed by a Zig-Zagged Curve

2006 European heat wave

The 2006 European heat wave was a period of exceptionally hot weather that arrived at the end of June 2006 in certain European countries. The United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany and western parts of Russia were most affected. Several records were broken. In the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom, July 2006 was the warmest month since official measurements began.

2006 European heat wave
Date26 June 2006 ( 2006-06-26 ) – 30 July 2006 ( 2006-07-30 )
LocationWestern Europe
TypeHeat wave

The Heat Waves Of The 1930&rsquos

A Washington, D.C. heat wave cartoon from July 28, 1930. The heat wave is pictured trying to break a "sitting record," imitating the popular flagpole sitters of the day. The summer of 1930 set the record in Washington for number of days that temperatures reached or exceeded 100°F, at 11 days. The hottest temperature of 106°F occurred on July 20. Pulitzer Prize winner Clifford Berryman drew the cartoon. Source: The book "Washington Weather."

The heat waves of 1934 and 1936 in Mid West and Great Plains are well known. But, perhaps, what is less well appreciated is that record breaking heat waves were both more extensive geographically and were not just confined to these two years.

The Capital Weather Gang, who write for the Washington Post, wrote this article back in 2010, showing how the heat waves affected Washington DC.

Before there was global warming, there were the dust bowl years of the 1930s, also known as "The Dirty Thirties." The record-setting heat waves and drought of the 1930s occurred during the middle of the Great Depression and contributed to the economic hardship felt throughout the nation. They also occurred when most people did not have the comfort of air conditioning and many heat-related deaths were reported. Two years during that decade were particularly hot for our region, 1930 and 1936. Those two years set heat records in Washington which still stand today.

Keep reading to learn more about the heat waves of 1930 and 1936.

The summer of 1930 made headlines due to unprecedented heat and drought that caused disastrous crop failures throughout the United States. The summer of 1930 ushered in the "Dust Bowl" era of unusually hot, dry summers that plagued the U.S. during much of the 1930s.

Washington area farmers were certainly not spared in 1930, as intense, prolonged hot spells gripped the region during late July and early August. The official temperature recorded on July 20 was 106°F, which holds the record as the highest temperature ever recorded in Washington. Unofficially, 110°F was recorded that same day on Pennsylvania Avenue and 108°F at the National Cathedral. The summer of 1930 also set the record for number of days where temperatures reached or exceeded 100°F at 11 days.

High temperatures of over 100°F were recorded during two heat waves that occurred in late July and early August of 1930. The July heat wave high temperatures are as follows:

July 19 – 102°F
July 20 – 106°F
July 21 – 103°F
July 22 – 100°F
July 23 – 94°F
July 24 – 93°F
July 25 – 100°F
July 26 – 100°F

The August heat wave high temperatures are as follows:

August 2 – 94°F
August 3 – 100°F
August 4 – 102°F
August 5 – 102°F
August 6 – 88°F
August 7 – 97°F
August 8 – 104°F
August 9 – 102°F

By the end of the summer of 1930, approximately 30 deaths in Washington were blamed on the heat and thousands more had died nationwide. In Washington, there has never been another summer with a heat wave that has equalled the summer of 1930.

The Heat Chaser hostess gives a Washington policeman a cold drink, August 4, 1936. Temperatures reached 95°F that day. The hottest day of that summer was July 10 when the temperature reached 105°F.Source: The book "Washington Weather."

The summer of 1936 stands out as one of the hottest summers felt across the entire United States. The heat wave began in early summer, with the Midwest experiencing June temperatures exceeding 100°F in some locations. The heat peaked in July, with all-time records set in many cities. Steele, North Dakota recorded a high temperature of 121°F and portions of Canada saw high temperatures exceed 110°F. In Washington, the temperature reached 104°F on July 9 and 105°F on July 10. More than 5,000 heat-related deaths were reported across the United States. The heat wave and drought of 1936 finally eased in September.

For you snow-lovers, how do you think the winters that followed the heat waves of 1930 and 1936 fared for Washingtonians? I can sum it up in one word, depressing. Of course, if you like tennis weather or afternoon strolls without an overcoat, the winters of 1930/31 and 1936/37 were awesome.

During the winter that followed the 1930 heat wave, there were only 3 days which had temperatures below freezing all day and only 2.5" of snow fell during the entire winter season. Temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s were common during the winter months, with 67°F recorded on January 27.

The winter that followed the heat wave of 1936 was even milder than 1930 for Washington. During that winter, there was only 1 day which had temperatures below freezing all day and temperatures in the 60’s were common throughout the winter months. An amazing high temperature of 76°F was recorded on January 9. A few late season wet snowstorms salvaged the winter for snow in Washington, with a little over 15" reported for the season.

As I mentioned, the article was written in 2010, so how does the summer of 1930 compare with 2012?

The monthly meteorological observations at Laurel MD, the nearest USHCN station to Washington, 50km away suggest that 2012 does not even come close. The monthly reports for July/August are copied below, but can be summarised. (The quality of the 1930 sheets is a bit rough, but the numbers are also confirmed via the Maryland State Climatological Reports).

  1930 2012
No of Days >= 100F 12 2
No of Days >= 95F 21 10
Top Temperature 106F 102F

It is also worth noting that the all-time maximum temperature record for Maryland is 109F, originally set in 1898 and subsequently tied in 1918 and 1936.

 That Speech

We all no doubt remember Obama’s famous “It’s hot today, it must be global warming” speech, delivered last year in Washington. On that day, 25th June, the temperature reached 82F, down the road at Laurel.

It will probably come as no great surprise to learn that the average maximum temperature in June there is 83.8F. Or that the record temperature for June is 101F, set as long ago as 1899.

Or that a temperature of 82F has been exceeded or tied in June on no less than 1992 occasions out a total 3204 days at Laurel.


A definition based on Frich et al.'s Heat Wave Duration Index is that a heat wave occurs when the daily maximum temperature of more than five consecutive days exceeds the average maximum temperature by 5 °C (9 °F), the normal period being 1961–1990. [4]

A formal, peer-reviewed definition from the Glossary of Meteorology is: [5]

A period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot and usually humid weather. To be a heat wave such a period should last at least one day, but conventionally it lasts from several days to several weeks. In 1900, A. T. Burrows more rigidly defined a "hot wave" as a spell of three or more days on each of which the maximum shade temperature reaches or exceeds 90 °F (32.2 °C). More realistically, the comfort criteria for any one region are dependent upon the normal conditions of that area.

The World Meteorological Organization, defines a heat wave as 5 or more consecutive days of prolonged heat in which the daily maximum temperature is higher than the average maximum temperature by 5 °C (9 °F) or more. [6] However, some nations have come up with their own criteria to define a heat wave.

In the Netherlands, a heat wave is defined as a period of at least 5 consecutive days in which the maximum temperature in De Bilt exceeds 25 °C (77 °F), provided that on at least 3 days in this period the maximum temperature in De Bilt exceeds 30 °C (86 °F). This definition of a heat wave is also used in Belgium and Luxembourg.

In Denmark, a national heat wave (hedebølge) is defined as a period of at least 3 consecutive days of which period the average maximum temperature across more than fifty percent of the country exceeds 28 °C (82.4 °F) – the Danish Meteorological Institute further defines a "warmth wave" (varmebølge) when the same criteria are met for a 25 °C (77.0 °F) temperature, [7] while in Sweden, a heat wave is defined as at least 5 days in a row with a daily high exceeding 25 °C (77.0 °F). [8]

In the United States, definitions also vary by region however, a heat wave is usually defined as a period of at least two or more days of excessively hot weather. [9] In the Northeast, a heat wave is typically defined as three consecutive days where the temperature reaches or exceeds 90 °F (32.2 °C), but not always as this ties in with humidity levels to determine a heat index threshold. [10] The same does not apply to drier climates. A heat storm is a Californian term for an extended heat wave [ citation needed ] . Heat storms occur when the temperature reaches 100 °F (37.8 °C) for three or more consecutive days over a wide area (tens of thousands of square miles) [ citation needed ] . The National Weather Service issues heat advisories and excessive heat warnings when unusual periods of hot weather are expected.

In Adelaide, South Australia, a heat wave is defined as five consecutive days at or above 35 °C (95 °F), or three consecutive days at or over 40 °C (104 °F). [11] The Australian Bureau of Meteorology defines a heat wave as "three days or more of maximum and minimum temperatures that are unusual for the location". [12] Until the introduction of this new Pilot Heatwave Forecast there was no national definition that described heatwave or measures of heatwave severity. [12]

In Greece, according to the Hellenic National Metereological Service, a heat wave is defined as three consecutive days at or above 39 °C (102 °F) and a minimum temperature in the same period at or over 26 °C (79 °F), with no winds or with weak winds, and the above conditions being observed in a broad area.

In the United Kingdom, the Met Office operates a Heat Health Watch system which places each Local Authority region into one of four levels. Heatwave conditions are defined by the maximum daytime temperature and minimum nighttime temperature rising above the threshold for a particular region. The length of time spent above that threshold determines the particular level. Level 1 is normal summer conditions. Level 2 is reached when there is a 60% or higher risk that the temperature will be above the threshold levels for two days and the intervening night. Level 3 is triggered when the temperature has been above the threshold for the preceding day and night, and there is a 90% or higher chance that it will stay above the threshold in the following day. Level 4 is triggered if conditions are more severe than those of the preceding three levels. Each of the first three levels is associated with a particular state of readiness and response by the social and health services, and Level 4 is associated with more widespread response. [13]

A more general indicator that allows comparing heat waves in different regions of the World, characterized by different climates, has been recently developed. [14] This was used to estimate heat waves occurrence at the global scale from 1901 to 2010, finding a substantial and sharp increase in the amount of affected areas in the last two decades. [15]

Heat waves form when high pressure aloft (from 10,000–25,000 feet (3,000–7,600 metres)) strengthens and remains over a region for several days up to several weeks. [16] This is common in summer (in both Northern and Southern Hemispheres) as the jet stream 'follows the sun'. On the equator side of the jet stream, in the upper layers of the atmosphere, is the high pressure area.

Summertime weather patterns are generally slower to change than in winter. As a result, this upper level high pressure also moves slowly. Under high pressure, the air subsides (sinks) toward the surface, warming and drying adiabatically, inhibiting convection and preventing the formation of clouds. Reduction of clouds increases shortwave radiation reaching the surface. A low pressure at the surface leads to surface wind from lower latitudes that brings warm air, enhancing the warming. Alternatively, the surface winds could blow from the hot continental interior towards the coastal zone, leading to heat waves there, or from a high elevation towards low elevation, enhancing the subsidence and therefore the adiabatic warming. [17] [18]

In the Eastern United States a heat wave can occur when a high pressure system originating in the Gulf of Mexico becomes stationary just off the Atlantic Seaboard (typically known as a Bermuda High). Hot humid air masses form over the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea while hot dry air masses form over the desert Southwest and northern Mexico. The SW winds on the back side of the High continue to pump hot, humid Gulf air northeastward resulting in a spell of hot and humid weather for much of the Eastern States. [19]

In the Western Cape Province of South Africa, a heat wave can occur when a low pressure offshore and high pressure inland air combine to form a Bergwind. The air warms as it descends from the Karoo interior, and the temperature will rise about 10 °C from the interior to the coast. Humidities are usually very low, and the temperatures can be over 40 °C in summer. The highest official temperatures recorded in South Africa (51.5 °C) was recorded one summer during a bergwind occurring along the Eastern Cape coastline. [20] [21]

Global warming boosts the probability of extreme weather events, like heat waves, far more than it boosts more moderate events. [22] [23] [24]

The heat index (as shown in the table above) is a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored with the actual air temperature. Hyperthermia, also known as heat stroke, becomes commonplace during periods of sustained high temperature and humidity. Older adults, very young children, and those who are sick or overweight are at a higher risk for heat-related illness. The chronically ill and elderly are often taking prescription medications (e.g., diuretics, anticholinergics, antipsychotics, and antihypertensives) that interfere with the body's ability to dissipate heat. [25]

Heat edema presents as a transient swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles and is generally secondary to increased aldosterone secretion, which enhances water retention. When combined with peripheral vasodilation and venous stasis, the excess fluid accumulates in the dependent areas of the extremities. The heat edema usually resolves within several days after the patient becomes acclimated to the warmer environment. No treatment is required, although wearing support stockings and elevating the affected legs will help minimize the edema.

Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, is a maculopapular rash accompanied by acute inflammation and blocked sweat ducts. The sweat ducts may become dilated and may eventually rupture, producing small pruritic vesicles on an erythematous base. Heat rash affects areas of the body covered by tight clothing. If this continues for a duration of time it can lead to the development of chronic dermatitis or a secondary bacterial infection. Prevention is the best therapy. It is also advised to wear loose-fitting clothing in the heat. However, once heat rash has developed, the initial treatment involves the application of chlorhexidine lotion to remove any desquamated skin. The associated itching may be treated with topical or systemic antihistamines. If infection occurs a regimen of antibiotics is required.

Heat cramps are painful, often severe, involuntary spasms of the large muscle groups used in strenuous exercise. Heat cramps tend to occur after intense exertion. They usually develop in people performing heavy exercise while sweating profusely and replenishing fluid loss with non-electrolyte containing water. This is believed to lead to hyponatremia that induces cramping in stressed muscles. Rehydration with salt-containing fluids provides rapid relief. Patients with mild cramps can be given oral .2% salt solutions, while those with severe cramps require IV isotonic fluids. The many sport drinks on the market are a good source of electrolytes and are readily accessible.

Heat syncope is related to heat exposure that produces orthostatic hypotension. This hypotension can precipitate a near-syncopal episode. Heat syncope is believed to result from intense sweating, which leads to dehydration, followed by peripheral vasodilation and reduced venous blood return in the face of decreased vasomotor control. Management of heat syncope consists of cooling and rehydration of the patient using oral rehydration therapy (sport drinks) or isotonic IV fluids. People who experience heat syncope should avoid standing in the heat for long periods of time. They should move to a cooler environment and lie down if they recognize the initial symptoms. Wearing support stockings and engaging in deep knee-bending movements can help promote venous blood return.

Heat exhaustion is considered by experts to be the forerunner of heat stroke (hyperthermia). It may even resemble heat stroke, with the difference being that the neurologic function remains intact. Heat exhaustion is marked by excessive dehydration and electrolyte depletion. Symptoms may include diarrhea, headache, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, tachycardia, malaise, and myalgia. Definitive therapy includes removing patients from the heat and replenishing their fluids. Most patients will require fluid replacement with IV isotonic fluids at first. The salt content is adjusted as necessary once the electrolyte levels are known. After discharge from the hospital, patients are instructed to rest, drink plenty of fluids for 2–3 hours, and avoid the heat for several days. If this advice is not followed it may then lead to heat stroke.

One public health measure taken during heat waves is the setting-up of air-conditioned public cooling centers.

Mortality Edit

Heat waves are the most lethal type of weather phenomenon in the United States. Between 1992 and 2001, deaths from excessive heat in the United States numbered 2,190, compared with 880 deaths from floods and 150 from hurricanes. [26] The average annual number of fatalities directly attributed to heat in the United States is about 400. [27] The 1995 Chicago heat wave, one of the worst in US history, led to approximately 739 heat-related deaths over a period of 5 days. [28] Eric Klinenberg has noted that in the United States, the loss of human life in hot spells in summer exceeds that caused by all other weather events combined, including lightning, rain, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes. [29] [30] Despite the dangers, Scott Sheridan, professor of geography at Kent State University, found that less than half of people 65 and older abide by heat-emergency recommendations such as drinking plenty of water. In his study of heat-wave behavior, focusing particularly on seniors in Philadelphia, Phoenix, Toronto, and Dayton, Ohio, he found that people over 65 "don't consider themselves seniors." One of his older respondents said: "Heat doesn't bother me much, but I worry about my neighbors." [31]

According to the Agency for Health care Research and Quality, about 6,200 Americans are hospitalized each summer due to excessive heat, and those at highest risk are poor, uninsured or elderly. [32] More than 70,000 Europeans died as a result of the 2003 European heat wave. [33] Also more than 2,000 people died in Karachi, Pakistan in June 2015 due to a severe heat wave with temperatures as high as 49 °C (120 °F). [34] [35]

Our concern now is focusing on predicting the future likelihood of heat waves and their severity. In addition, because in most of the world most of those suffering the impacts of a heat wave will be inside a building, and this will modify the temperatures they are exposed to, there is the need to link climate models to building models. This means producing example time series of future weather. [36] [37] Other work has shown that future mortality due to heat waves could be reduced if buildings were better designed to modify the internal climate, or if the occupants were better educated about the issues, so they can take action in time. [38] [39]

Underreporting and "Harvesting" effect

The number of heat fatalities is likely highly underreported due to a lack of reports and misreports. [27] Part of the mortality observed during a heat wave, however, can be attributed to a so-called "harvesting effect", a term for a short-term forward mortality displacement. It has been observed that for some heat waves, there is a compensatory decrease in overall mortality during the subsequent weeks after a heat wave. Such compensatory reductions in mortality suggest that heat affects especially those so ill that they "would have died in the short term anyway". [40]

Another explanation for underreporting is the social attenuation in most contexts of heat waves as a health risk. As shown by the deadly French heat wave in 2003, heat wave dangers result from the intricate association of natural and social factors. [41]

Psychological and sociological effects Edit

In addition to physical stress, excessive heat causes psychological stress, to a degree which affects performance, and is also associated with an increase in violent crime. [42] High temperatures are associated with increased conflict both at the interpersonal level and at the societal level. In every society, crime rates go up when temperatures go up, particularly violent crimes such as assault, murder, and rape. Furthermore, in politically unstable countries, high temperatures are an aggravating factor that lead toward civil wars. [43]

Additionally, high temperatures have a significant effect on income. A study of counties in the United States found that economic productivity of individual days declines by about 1.7% for each degree Celsius above 15 °C (59 °F). [44]

Power outages Edit

Abnormally hot temperatures can cause electricity demand to increase during the peak summertime hours of 4 to 7 p.m. when air conditioners are straining to overcome the heat. If a hot spell extends to three days or more, however, nighttime temperatures do not cool down, and the thermal mass in homes and buildings retains the heat from previous days. This heat build-up causes air conditioners to turn on earlier and to stay on later in the day. As a result, available electricity supplies are challenged during a higher, wider, peak electricity consumption period. [ citation needed ]

Heat waves often lead to electricity spikes due to increased air conditioning use, which can create power outages, exacerbating the problem. During the 2006 North American heat wave, thousands of homes and businesses went without power, especially in California. In Los Angeles, electrical transformers failed, leaving thousands without power for as long as five days. [45] The 2009 South Eastern Australia Heat Wave caused the city of Melbourne, Australia to experience some major power disruptions which left over half a million people without power as the heat wave blew transformers and overloaded a power grid.

Wildfires Edit

If a heat wave occurs during a drought, which dries out vegetation, it can contribute to bushfires and wildfires. During the disastrous heat wave that struck Europe in 2003, fires raged through Portugal, destroying over 3,010 square kilometres (1,160 sq mi) or 301,000 hectares (740,000 acres) of forest and 440 square kilometres (170 sq mi) or 44,000 hectares (110,000 acres) of agricultural land and causing an estimated €1 billion worth of damage. [46] High end farmlands have irrigation systems to back up crops with. Heat waves cause wildfires.

Physical damage Edit

Heat waves can and do cause roads and highways to buckle and melt, [47] water lines to burst, and power transformers to detonate, causing fires. See the 2006 North American heat wave article about heat waves causing physical damage.

Heat waves can also damage rail roads, such as buckling and kinking rails, which can lead to slower traffic, delays, and even cancellations of service when rails are too dangerous to traverse by trains. Sun kinking is caused when certain types of rail design like short section rails welded together or fish plate rails expand and push on other sections of rail causing them to warp and kink. Sun kinking can be a serious problem in hotter climates like Southern USA, parts of Canada, the Middle East, etc.

In the 2013 heatwave in England, gritters (normally only seen in snow) were sent out to grit melting tarmac roads. [48]

Climate models reveal that future heat waves will have a more intense geographic pattern. [49] Model results show that areas associated with the severe heat waves in Chicago in 1995 and Paris in 2003 will experience more intense, more frequent, and longer-lasting heat waves in the second half of the 21st century. [49] Heat waves today in Europe and North America happen parallel to the conditions of atmospheric circulation. [49] Increased anthropogenic activities causing increased greenhouse gas emissions show that heat waves will be more severe. [49]

Heat waves and droughts as a result, minimize ecosystem carbon uptake. [50] Carbon uptake is also known as carbon sequestration. Extreme heat wave events are predicted to happen with increased global warming, which puts stress on ecosystems. [50] Stress on ecosystems due to future intensified heat waves will reduce biological productivity. [50] This will cause changes in the ecosystem's carbon cycle feedback because there will be less vegetation to hold the carbon from the atmosphere, which will only contribute more to atmospheric warming. [50]

Policy makers, funders and researchers responding to the increasing heatwaves created the Extreme Heat Resiliance Alliance coalition under the Atlantic Council to advocate for naming heatwaves, measuring them, and ranking them to build better awareness of their impacts. [51] [52]

The great heatwave of 2018 impacted millions of people. Temperatures raised up to locally 47 degrees Celsius.

June 2019 was the hottest month on record worldwide, the effects of this were especially prominent in Europe. [53] The effects of climate change have been projected to make heat waves in places such as Europe up to five times more likely to occur. Among other effects, increased wildfires in places such as Spain can also be attributed to heat waves. [54]

In July 2019, over 50 million people in the United States were present in a jurisdiction with any type of heat advisory - heat is the deadliest type of extreme weather in the United States. Scientists predicted that in the days following the issuance of these warnings, many records for highest low temperatures will be broken. (I.e. - the lowest temperature in a 24-hour period will be higher than any low temperature measured before.) [55]

In addition to posing threat to human health, heat waves significantly threaten agricultural production. In 2019, heat waves in the Mulanje region of Malawi experienced temperatures as high as 40 degrees celsius. Heat waves and a late rain season resulted in significant leaf scorching of tea leaves in Malawi, leading to reduced yields. [56]

August 10 2003 Temperatures in UK top 100 F for first time during European heat wave

On August 10th 2003, the United Kingdom recorded its first-ever temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Throughout the month, an intense heat wave scorched the European continent, claiming more than 35,000 lives.

August 2003 was the hottest August ever recorded in the northern hemisphere and broke all previous records for heat-related deaths. France was the worst hit, with almost 15,000 victims, followed by Germany, where approximately 7,000 people died. Thousands also died in Spain and Italy. A majority of the victims were elderly, very young, or chronically ill.

When a person experiences extreme heat, their bodies can struggle to cool themselves—which can prove especially dangerous in the very old, very young or already ill. If a person’s internal body temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the organs can began to fail and the person can eventually die. The Washington, D.C.-based Earth Policy Institute estimates that more people die every year from heat than floods, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.

In addition to directly causing deaths, the extreme heat also caused massive fires. In Portugal, 10 percent of the country’s forests were destroyed and 18 people were killed in the fires. The heat also caused glacial melt, flash floods and avalanches in Switzerland.

Scientists project that, because of global warming, the earth’s average temperature will continue to rise, reaching 42.44 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, a gain of 2.5 degrees. Because of this, the World Meteorological Organisation predicts that the number of annual heat-related deaths might double by 2023. Most researchers agree that the only way to stop the slow rise in global temperatures is to reduce levels of the carbon-dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

Europe melts, temperature records shatter under Sahara heat wave

AP — Even ice cream, Italian gelato or popsicles couldn’t help this time.

Temperature records that had stood for decades or even just hours fell minute by minute Thursday afternoon and Europeans and tourists alike jumped into fountains, lakes, rivers or the sea to escape a suffocating heat wave rising up from the Sahara.

On a day that the continent will never forget, two potential drug dealers in Belgium even called the police on themselves, begging to be rescued from the locked container they managed to get themselves trapped in.

It was nearly impossible to keep up with the falling records as temperatures climbed higher and higher under a brutal sun — in Paris and London, in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands — all places where air conditioning is not typically installed in homes, cafes or stores. Even office air conditioning systems strained under the hot, dry air that was trapped between two stormy weather systems.

Climate scientists warned these types of heat waves could become the new normal but they loom as a giant challenge for temperate Europe. As emissions keep warming the planet, scientists say there will be more and hotter heat waves, although it’s too early to know whether this specific hot spell is linked to man-made climate change.

“There is likely the DNA of climate change in the record-breaking heat that Europe and other parts of the world are experiencing. And it is unfortunately going to continue to worsen,” said Marshall Shepherd, professor of meteorology at University of Georgia.

Electric fans sold out across Paris — and traditional folding fans made a comeback on the city’s stuffy Metro. Trains were canceled in Britain and France, with authorities in both nations urging travelers to stay home. Messages to “Hydrate yourselves!” blared from the radio and TV, and water bottles were handed out with abandon.

Still, the atmosphere was buoyant, as people sought to stay cool yet embrace the moment.

Katy James, visiting Paris from Chicago, was one of the lucky ones with an air-conditioned room but she was still out in the streets, enjoying the atmosphere.

“We’ve had such a good time. The Parisians have been so accommodating. We’ve been getting water wherever we go. We got to play in the fountain. This was amazing,” James said.

France’s heat alert system went to its maximum level of red for the first time during last month’s heat wave, when France saw its highest-ever recorded temperature of 46 degrees Celsius (114.8 degrees Fahrenheit). On Thursday, about one-fifth of French territory was under a red alert, stretching from the English Channel through the Paris region and down to Burgundy, affecting at least 20 million people.

French authorities have been particularly wary since a 2003 heat wave killed nearly 15,000 people, many of them elderly, stuck alone in stiflingly hot apartments.

“The science behind heat wave attribution is very robust — the first extreme weather event to be definitively linked to global warming was the 2003 European heat wave,” said NASA climate scientist Kate Marvel. “We know that as the climate warms, heat waves become more likely and more severe.”

So as tourists frolicked in fountains, authorities and volunteers in Paris and London fanned out to help the elderly, the sick and the homeless, opening cooling centers to let people rest, recover or shower.

“They are in the street all day, under the sun. No air conditioning, no way to protect oneself from the heat,” said Ruggero Gatti, an IT worker who joined other Red Cross volunteers handing out water bottles, soup and yogurt to the homeless in the Paris suburb of Boulogne.

Across the Channel, the heat damaged overhead electric wires between London’s St. Pancras train station and Luton Airport, blocking all train lines. East Midlands Trains posted a message to passengers on Twitter, saying simply “DO NOT TRAVEL.”

The sheer levels of heat on Thursday afternoon were nothing short of astonishing:

— The Paris area hit 42.6 C (108.7 F), beating the previous record of 40.4 C (104.7 F) set in 1947.

— The Netherlands’ meteorological institute announced a record that beat the previous record set just a day ago: 40.7 C (105.3 F) in the Gilze Rijen municipality near the Belgian border.

— Belgium hit all-time records twice in the day, rising to 40.7 C (105.3 F) in the western town of Beitem. “This is the highest recorded temperature for Belgium in history since the beginning of the measurements in 1833,” said Alex Dewalque of the country’s Royal Meteorological Institute.

— The northern German town of Lingen set a new national temperature record at least three times Thursday, finally hitting 42.6 C (108.7 F). Those repeated records came after the country had set a national record Wednesday of 40.5 C (104.9 F) in Geilenkirchen near the Belgian border.

— London recorded its hottest day on record for July, with the mercury climbing to 36.9 C (98.4 F) at Heathrow Airport. The previous July record was 36.7 C (98 F) in 2015.

— In Britain overall, temperatures hit 38.1 C (100.6 F) in southern England, which gave the country a record for the highest July temperature ever but did not beat the national record of 38.5 C (101.3 F) set in August 2003. Britain’s Met Office said its temperature records go back to 1865.

— The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment issued a “smog alarm” Thursday for areas including the densely populated cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague due to high ozone levels.

In Germany, Switzerland and Austria, some communities painted vital rail tracks white in hopes that the light color would bring down the temperature a few degrees and the tracks would not get warped by the heat. German railways Deutsche Bahn said passengers who had booked tickets for Thursday or Friday and wanted to delay their trips could do so without charge.

In Cologne in western Germany, volunteers handed out free water while others sunbathed on the dried-up banks of the Rhine River. In Bavaria’s prisons, inmates were getting cold cucumber soup, fruit and yoghurt for lunch and more water than normal.

In Austria, a 2-year-old died of dehydration Wednesday in the country’s Styria region after he climbed into an overheated parked car without his family noticing.

Social media had fun with a photo showing that even Queen Elizabeth II, one of the world’s wealthiest women, needed relief from the heat. An image of the monarch meeting new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday appeared to have a Dyson fan in the background, a tower-like design that stood out against the delicate gilt-edged decor at Buckingham Palace.

As intense as it was, the heat in Europe is expected to be short, with temperatures forecast to drop on Friday and Saturday.

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The first European heatwave in 2021: Estimates of national TOP temperatures

The newest expectations of maximum temperatures for Europe according to GFS (wetterzentrale) outputs estimates are only little colder than previous, with really strong warmspell, in the warmest parts of Europe maybe heatwave.

The next 7 days, since Wednesday, 24. March to Wednesday, 31. March will come to Europe after long-term winter season coldwaves finally extremely warm period and temperatures will reach the highest values of present year 2021 .

Only in the last article we have informed about extremely warm Sahara / Gradually, transition from light NAO- to strong NAO+ phase is expected, what means, that Azorean high will shift from tropical and subtropical climate zone into mid-latitudes .

The most hit will be southwestern, western, central Europe and western Balkan , where are in many coutnries expected summer, regionally tropical temperatures.

The hottest will be in the Spain , according to ou estimates up to +32°C , Portgual and France should surprise the first tropial day of the year with +30°C and similarly hot should be in Sicily or Sardegna, Italy.

Summer temperatures up to +27°C are expected in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia and summer threshold +25°C should be overcame in many countries in Central Europe .

Very warm will be in the UK, too, up to +23°C , similarly in western adn southern Ukraine, southwestern Belarus, but Turkey and Greece will be colder , in mountainous region very cold below +10°C, in the south around +22°C.

In Iceland, +20,4°C in Datalangi was already measured , but forecast for southern Sweden has changed from +20°C to +17°C .

Southern Baltic region should reach +20°C , but northern parts of Baltic states should be happy from +15°C, maybe +17°C.

The coldest will be Norway - in the south up to +15°C and Finland, with only +12°C in southwestern parts and in the north still with maximum temperatures only around 0°C.

After an Easter , the newest outputs have surprised with next extremely coldwave in Europe - but not in all parts - mainly in western, northwestern, northern and parts of central Europe . Cooldown after an Easter 2021 will be a topic of the next Mkweather article.

Europe heat wave: France records all-time highest temperature of 115 degrees

For a third straight day, a ferocious heat wave is baking large parts of Europe, and the exceptionally high temperatures are making history. On Friday, the town of Gallargues-le-Montueux in southern France hit 114.6 degrees (45.9 Celsius), the hottest temperature ever recorded in the country.

The scorching temperature easily surpassed, by more than 3 degrees, the previous record of 111.4 degrees (44.1 Celsius) set in the southern town of Conqueyrac in France’s historic 2003 heat wave, which was blamed for 15,000 deaths.

Etienne Kapikia, a forecaster for Météo-France, the country’s meteorological agency, tweeted that 13 different locations had surpassed the 2003 record.

The heat was so intense that, for the first time since initiating its heat warning system (after the 2003 heat wave), Météo-France declared a red alert, the highest level, for the southeast part of the country Friday. It remains in effect until 4 p.m. local time Saturday.

France’s prime minister Édouard Philippe described the heat as exceptional in its precocity and intensity and called for the the utmost vigilance.

Historic heat has scorched western and central Europe since Wednesday, when national June temperature records fell in Germany, Luxembourg, Andorra, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Hundreds of heat records for the month of June (in some places, for any month) have fallen in individual towns and cities since the heat wave began, many surpassing 100 degrees (37.8 degrees Celsius).

In Spain, where temperatures rose above 104 degrees (40 C) Thursday, intense wildfires erupted in its Catalonia region, charring 16,000 acres, according to the BBC. CNN reported one blaze began when “manure self-ignited."

It’s not just daytime temperatures that have been exceptionally warm. Temperatures at night have also been record-setting, presenting a dangerous situation for those without access to air-conditioning.

Météo-France tweeted that several locations had observed their warmest low temperatures ever recorded in any month Thursday morning, remaining above 75 degrees (24 Celsius).

Several other countries could challenge long-standing heat records into the weekend.

From Spain to Poland, temperatures are forecast to be 20 to 30 degrees (11 to 17 Celsius) above normal through Saturday. Actual temperatures should surge to at least 95 to 105 degrees (35 to 40 Celsius) over a sprawling area.

The highest temperatures compared to normal shift from western Europe Friday to central Europe on Saturday.

Madrid topped 100 degrees (37.8 degrees Celsius) Friday afternoon and high temperatures were predicted to top the century mark through the weekend, perhaps approaching 105 (40.6 Celsius) Saturday, its highest temperature on record.

In Italy, Florence, Rome and Turin were under the country’s highest heat alert level, the Associated Press reported.

The heat wave commenced Wednesday, when numerous June heat milestones were set:

  • France’s meteorological agency, Météo-France, tweeted that the country’s average high of 94.8 degrees (34.9 Celsius) was its highest recorded in June. The low temperature in Nice, on the French Riviera, was 78.8 degrees (26 Celsius) Wednesday, the warmest ever recorded in June.
  • In Germany, a weather station in Berlin soared to 101.5 degrees (38.6 Celsius) Wednesday afternoon, becoming the highest temperature recorded in the country during June.
  • Poland set its June temperature record, with a high of 100.8 degrees (38.2 Celsius) in Radzyń in the eastern part of the country.
  • The Czech Republic set a June record with a temperature of 102 degrees (38.9 Celsius) in Doksany to the northwest of Prague.

On Thursday, France’s Carpentras soared to 106.3 degrees (41.3 Celsius) Thursday, the first time any location in France had exceeded 41 Celsius during the month of June, until the same town hit an even higher temperature on Friday. The city of La Rochelle in southwestern France hit 104.9 (40.5 Celsius) Thursday, topping 40 Celsius for the first time in its history.

A main cause for the massive early-season heat wave is a pair of powerful high-pressure systems. One is near Greenland, and the other is over north-central Europe. As they become linked and flex over coming days, forming a massive heat dome, they’ll also act to block a low-pressure system to their south, which would draw cooler air over Europe.

Influence of sea surface temperature on the European heat wave of 2003 summer. Part I: an observational study

The heat wave affecting Europe during summer of 2003 is analyzed in detail with observational and reanalysis data. Surface, middle and upper troposphere analysis reveal particular circulation patterns related to an atmospheric blocking condition. In general seasonal anomalies, like this intense heat wave, are strongly related to boundary conditions. Composites and empirical orthogonal functions analysis provide evidence for an organized structure in the sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly field: high SSTs in the Mediterranean basin, the North Sea and further north toward the Arctic Circle were observed mainly in the months of June and August. The outcome of this analysis on observational data shows the SST as one of the possible factors in enhancing the heat wave in the European area.

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3. Analysis

As the entire summer of 2003 was known to be persistently hot, we define the heatwave 'event' as the inclusive June–August period. To analyse the event we use a global atmosphere-only climate model to internally drive a 'nested' 25 km regional model covering Europe [18]. Individual model simulations capture the observed spread in recent summer temperatures well (figure 1, red bar) and are notably warmer than estimates of 2003 in the absences of anthropogenic warming (see section 2) (figure 1, blue bar). We also test the capability of the model for capturing the synoptic conditions of the 2003-like heatwave. The highest observed temperatures in 2003 were during August, with the largest temperature anomalies located over France (figure 2(a), filled contours). The synoptic circulation was in an Atlantic/European ridge regime [27] (line contours), which allowed warm air to be advected poleward from nearer the equator. A composite average based on the top 5% of ensemble members with most similar synoptic situations (see figure caption) to the reanalysis shows very similar temperature anomalies over France (figure 2(b)). This large-scale wave pattern is considered to be a key forcing mechanism for the extreme summer temperatures, whereby a resonant growth of wavenumber 6–8 Rossby quasi-stationary waves (near-static planetary waves) is thought to be linked with the high temperature anomalies over France in 2003 [28]. Ultimately, these waves may form Atlantic and/or European ridges (as was the cause in 2003) or blocks.

Figure 2. Synoptic conditions for August 2003. In (a) ERA-Interim reanalysis and (b) the top 5% of model simulations with a similar synoptic circulation pattern to that observed in 2003. The similarity of the modelled synoptic circulation pattern to the observed pattern is diagnosed by matching the differences between the Z500 'centres of action' from the high and low in (a). Filled contours show the near surface temperature anomaly. Line contours show the geopotential height at 500 hPa anomaly. Contours intervals are every 30 m and negative anomalies are dashed. Anomalies are relative to the 1979–2012 period.

We find clear examples of simulations with similar synoptic wave characteristics to that occurring in 2003 (figure S1). When we formally identify the dynamical modes using the latest relevant 2003 wave diagnostics [28], we find that the model represents the temporal and spatial structure of them well (figures 3, S2). Critically, we see an increase in the frequency of heat waves over France when we explicitly detect 2003-like ridging events in our ensemble members (figure 3(b)). These factors indicate our ensemble is capable of capturing synoptic and climate conditions of the event. The large ensemble, by placing analysis in a probabilistic framework, allows attention to then be moved to an attribution assessment. We focus on two major European cities Paris, which recorded unprecedented levels of mortality during the 2003 heat wave, and London, which experienced increased mortality but to a lesser extent than that of Paris. By comparing these cities we avoid a natural selection bias in focussing on the most extreme cases.

Figure 3. Blocking, ridging and warm days. (left) Percentage of summer days in blocking and ridging regimes for the (red) Actual scenario and (blue) Natural scenario. Black crosses show the percentage in reanalysis. (right) Percentage geographical differences in extremely (above the 95 percentile) hot days between summers defined as in a ridging regime, and summers not defined as in a ridging regime.

For the HIA for heat related mortality, we use AT [25], a measure of human discomfort based on temperature and relative humidity. This metric was used in a directly relevant epidemiological analysis [17], to calculate heat–mortality response relationships for the 2003 heat wave, for Paris and London, as well as other cities.

The daily AT is well modelled in simulations, with numerous examples of heat waves as extreme as that observed in early August 2003 (figure S3). Mortality estimated from observed AT (figure 4) show that during 2003 (thick line) there is a clear peak in early August, in agreement with published estimates indicating that 2003 was an unprecedented event. Over the 3-month period June–August 2003, the seasonal heat-related mortality rate was around 4.5 per 100 000 for London and 34 per 100 000 for Paris, although the daily mortality rate in Paris peaked at 5 per 100 000 population at the height of the heat wave.

Figure 4. Daily time series of heat-related mortality. Estimated mortality throughout the summer period calculated from observed AT in London (top) and Paris (bottom). The thin lines are heat-related mortality calculated from AT observations covering 1993–2002. The thick line is the same but for 2003. Mortality counts are expressed per 100 000 population of each city. Note how the event, although extreme in London, was much less out of the ordinary than in Paris.

To understand any attributable role human influence on climate played in the 2003 event, we perform two experiments, and use the modelled AT as input to the HIA. The initial set of simulations employs known forcing conditions of ocean surface temperature, sea-ice extent and atmospheric gas compositions for the year 2003 (hereafter, 'Actual' conditions). The second set employ naturalised year 2003 estimates of the same forcing conditions (hereafter, 'Natural' conditions), which are representative of pre-industrial times. A meteorological analysis of these simulations shows

1 K warming over Southern Europe in the Actual conditions compared to the Natural conditions scenario simulations, and with the variability of the event well captured by the model (figure S4). As natural SST patterns are not directly observable, we estimate them from ten independent climate models thereby creating ten estimates of the 'possible' natural SSTs (see section 2). For each of these ten estimates of pre-industrial forcing conditions, we present the mean change in temperature from the Actual conditions scenario for Paris and London, and from this calculate using our HIA, the change in overall cumulative summer (June–August) mortality (figure 5). Temperature increases have a higher impact on mortality in Paris over London, with the rate of increase for each city given by the slope of the best-fit line. The deviations of each point from the best fit lines indicates that the range in predicted AT is at least partially dependent on the naturalised SST pattern used, hence it is important to include the full spread in our analysis.

Figure 5. Apparent temperature to mortality relationship. Correlation between the mean summer apparent temperature and mean cumulative mortality in Paris (purple) and London (green) during 2003. Each point shows the Actual conditions minus one of the Natural conditions scenarios. There are ten different 'possible' Natural scenarios, based on ten estimated naturalised SST patterns. Mortality units are expressed in deaths per 100 000 population of the city. The correlation coefficient is given in parenthesis.

Many attribution studies to date have been hampered by only having available a small number of simulations. Our experiment, generating

2000 simulations all with slightly different initial conditions, allows sampling of inherent chaotic nonlinear aspects of the atmospheric system. We use our super-ensemble framework to ask how rare was the observed 2003 event, and has human influence on climate changed this? Although the largest mortality signal in 2003 was over the first two weeks of August, here we choose to concentrate on the full seasonal analysis, again to avoid any selection bias arising from the most extreme signal. When summer (June–August) averaged temperatures are considered over a region covering the Mediterranean (figure 6) [21], we see an event of magnitude identical to the 2003 observed event (dashed line) has changed from a 1-in-500-year event (±200) in the Natural scenario, to a 1-in-40-year event (±10) in the Actual scenario, around an order of magnitude increase, consistent with [4, 21].

Figure 6. Temperature and mortality return period curves. (top, left) Summer-averaged temperature over the Mediterranean region and (top, middle and right) summer averaged apparent temperature over London and Paris. The bottom panels show the same but for cumulative summer heat-related mortality. Mortality counts are expressed per 100 000 population of the city. 5%–95% confidence intervals are plotted on the return level curves. The dashed line on each panel shows the value of the observed event.

Observed summer AT over both cities is extreme, particularly in Paris (figure 6, top, dashed lines). In both model scenarios there are ample simulations that capture this (red and blue regions), in conjunction with the dynamical analysis and an analysis of the soil moisture (see SI), it adds confidence that 2003-like events are well represented in our simulations. Our results show that over both cities, the frequency of 2003-like heatwaves has increased due to anthropogenic climate change, but that this arises from the direct thermodynamical response of radiative forcing rather than a secondary dynamical response. The comparison between the Actual and Natural scenarios indicate that in London, summers as hot as that observed in 2003 previously occurred as a 1-in-10-year event (±0.5), but increased to a 1-in-3-year event (±0.5) under anthropogenic emissions. Likewise in Paris, the event went from a 1-in-92-year event (±12), to a 1-in-30-year event (±10).

To determine whether any human influences contributed to the mortality associated with the 2003 heat wave, we compare mortality estimated in the Actual scenario, with that of the Natural scenario. To quantify the human impact on the occurrence of the extreme 2003 heat wave, we use the fraction of attributable risk (FAR) [29], defined as , where PNAT is the probability of exceeding a predefined threshold in the Natural scenarios, and PACT is the probability of exceeding the same threshold but for the Actual scenarios. Here, our threshold is the heat related mortality count calculated from observations (figure 4). Using this analysis framework, the FAR is 0.70 (±0.07) for Paris, and 0.20 (±0.01) for London, indicating a strong anthropogenic influence on the mortality for Paris, which was made

70% more likely. The cumulative 2003 summer heat related mortality calculated from observed AT was 34 in Paris and 4.5 in London (per 100 000 population). Hence these FAR statistics indicate that human influence was responsible for

24 heat related deaths in Paris, and

1 in London (per 100 000 population). Accounting for the population of the cities where mortality data is considered (7 154 000 for Greater London, and 2 126 000 for Central Paris see section 2), the total number of heat-related deaths attributable to human influences is 506 (±51) in Central Paris, and 64 (±3) in Greater London during the summer of 2003. Return level statistics show that the 2003-like mortality event in Paris went from a 1-in-300-year event (±200), to a 1-in-70-year event (±30), whereas the less extreme event in London increased from a 1-in-7-year event (±0.5) to a 1-in-2.5-year event (±0.2) (figure 6, bottom). The mortality count attributable to anthropogenic influences in these cities is notably high. However, London and Paris are just two of a large number of cities that were impacted by the 2003 heatwave, therefore the total European-wide mortality count attributable to anthropogenic climate change is likely to be orders of magnitude larger than this.

The analysis above has used the mid-range heat–mortality relationship from the HIA in Baccini et al [17], and where the uncertainty presented is from the atmospheric modelling. Uncertainty from the HIA can also be included using the 5%–95% ranges from Baccini et al [17]. This then gives for the lower estimate of the HIA, 410 (±40) deaths that are attributable to anthropogenic climate change in Paris, and 50 (±3) in London during the summer of 2003. If the upper limit is used, then 602 (±64) deaths are attributable to anthropogenic climate change in Paris, and 80 (±4) in London.

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