The Northern Hemisphere Is Sweltering

The Northern Hemisphere Is Sweltering
Pedestrians try to keep themselves cool in London on Tuesday. (Photo: Frank Augstein, AP)

It’s summertime in the Global North, which already comes with increased temperatures. But as heatwaves sweep across different parts of the globe, heightened temperatures are wreaking havoc across the world.

“There are actually five locations around the Northern Hemisphere that are showing really hot weather, in the northern Pacific, parts of the U.S., Europe, mid-Asia, and Far East Asia,” said Stephen Belcher, Chief Scientist for the U.K.’s Met Office, in a video posted to Twitter. “The concern is that these patterns can persist for longer.”

The world’s top climate scientists have found that rare heat waves that used to occur once every ten years are now twice more common, with heat events that used to happen once every fifty years happening once per decade. Here’s what our climate-changed world looks like this week.

The UK Smashes Records

As extreme temperatures continue to bake the majority of Europe, the United Kingdom is making headlines this week for destroying its previous high temperature record multiple times in a single day.

Before Tuesday, the U.K. had never seen temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius. But on Tuesday, the Met Office announced that temperatures officially reached 40.28 degrees Celsius in Coningsby, smashing the previous record of 38.7 degrees Celsius taken at Cambridge University Botanic Garden in July 2019. That record is now very old news: all told, the Met Office said, at least 35 places across the U.K. exceeded that old temperature record, including five places that saw temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius. The office also issued its first Red Extreme Heat warning for this past Monday and Tuesday, indicating a risk to life, travel, energy supply, and infrastructure.

The U.K. is simply not prepared for such brutal heat. The BBC reports that a teenage boy was sent home from his school in West Yorkshire for wearing shorts — which, it deserves mentioning, is a completely appropriate piece of attire to wear in a heatwave. On Monday, temperatures were so hot that a runway at RAF Brize Norton, the country’s largest Royal Air Force base, literally melted, which forced the base to redirect incoming flights and cancel those outgoing.

Europe Continues to Sizzle

The heat is not only preying on the United Kingdom, but other parts of Europe as well. In France, temperatures ballooned well past 40 degrees Celsius on Monday, with some parts of the country reaching 42+ degrees Celsius. Axios is reporting a total of 1,700 people across Portugal and Spain that have died from heat-related causes in the past two weeks. The heatwave is also helping to facilitate the conditions for wildfires to burn out of control, and they are, as fire rage in Spain, Portugal, France, and Greece.

China’s Infrastructure Crumbles in Heat

China is also in the throes of a heat wave, as high temperatures are expected to stay high until August says Reuters, citing the state weather forecaster. According to the Chinese Meteorological Administration, the heatwave began back in June and has broken records since then. The administration says that temperatures over 44 degrees Celsius have been recorded in areas of Hebei and Yunnan.

Channel News Asia reports that Shanghai, along with several other cities across China, saw buckling streets and roof tiles “popping” as the heat bakes the country.

The U.S. Preps For A Hot Week

The U.S. isn’t fairing much better. The National Weather Service this week issued heat warnings and advisories for 28 states, mainly in the South, Midwest, and Northeast. Today, the National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings — which corresponds to a heat index of 40.5 degrees Celsius for at least two hours — for areas of California, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

The National Weather Service’s advisories include states in the Northeast like New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. In New York City and surrounding areas, temperatures today may easily hit 37.8 degrees Celsius.

It feels novel to have so much news coming in from different areas across the world that are all experiencing the malaise (and tragic consequences) of high temperatures, but as the effects of our planet’s changing climate continue, so will these episodes of heat.