Fresh off the heels of a record-setting heat wave last month, Europe is about to heat up in a major way again.
Paris and London could set new high-temperature records this week while the forests of Spain and Portugal are once again at risk of exploding in flames. The story is fast becoming the new abnormal as climate change increases the odds of heat around the world.
Last month was the hottest June on record in the northern hemisphere, riding on the back of a heat wave that saw France set an all-time high-temperature record as well as June records for the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Andorra, Luxembourg, Poland, and Germany.
While the heat wave arriving this week isn’t forecast to be quite as fierce, it still has record-setting potential for major cities in Europe and could ensure July goes down as the hottest month the world has ever recorded.
The July heat wave will be caused by a near-identical pattern to the one that drove June’s extreme heat in the northern hemisphere.
Low pressure will stall over the North Atlantic, funnelling the jet stream into a big swing over the UK and northern Europe. That will cut the region off from cooler Arctic air while allowing hot, dry air from the south to come rushing over the continent. The result will be temperatures rising over the course of the week and spiking on Wednesday and Thursday in the country anywhere from 10-15 degrees Celsius above normal.
France, Spain, and Portugal — all of which were broiled by the last heat wave — are likely to see the mercury rise past 40 degrees Celsius. That includes Paris, where the all-time high-temperature record of 40.4 degrees Celsius was set in 1947, according to AFP.
“Thursday (July 25) will be a potentially historically hot day,” François Jobard, a forecaster at Météo France, told the news agency. “We are forecasting 41 or 42 degrees in Paris on Thursday and there is the strong chance of beating the record.”
It could also bake in drought conditions in France, Germany and other parts of Europe. But the heat wave will also extend to areas not enveloped by the June scorcher. That includes portions of Scandinavia and parts of the UK where all-time temperature records could also fall.
“The UK will experience another pulse of high temperatures this week, with the possibility of records being broken for not only July but also all-time records,” UK Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said in a post by the forecast office.
The UK Met Office is forecasting temperatures of 37 degrees Celsius in southeast England. The current July record for London is is 36.7 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit), a record set at Heathrow Airport in 2015. The all-time UK temperature record is 38.5 degrees Celsius (101.3 degrees Fahrenheit). That was set in Faversham — located about 80km southeast of London — in August 2003 during the most deadly heat wave in modern European history.
A snap analysis found that climate change made the June heat wave “that intense is occurring at least 10 times more frequently today than a century ago.”
While we’ll have to wait for this heat wave to play out before climate scientists have data to analyse, it seems safe to say climate change has almost certainly impacted it in some way. To wit, here’s that analysis again: “Every heatwave [sic] occurring in Europe today is made more likely and more intense by human-induced climate change.”
So yeah, it’s a climate changed world, we’re just sweating in it.