Heatwave intensifies in northern hemisphere record may broken in coming days

A girl refills her bottle with water from the "Fontana della Barcaccia" fountain amid a fierce heatwave which sweeps Europe, at Piazza di Spagna in central Rome, on July 19, 2022. - Europe's searing heatwave is generating very high levels of harmful ozone pollution, the region's atmospheric monitoring service warned, adding that large areas of western Europe also face "extreme" danger of wildfires. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)

New Delhi: The dangers associated with the heatwave that’s engulfing the northern hemisphere aren’t over yet, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned on Wednesday.

In an alert, the agency emphasized that heatwaves are amongst the deadliest natural hazards and extreme temperatures are poised to grow in frequency, duration, and intensity.

“Repeated high night-time temperatures are particularly dangerous for human health because the body is unable to recover from sustained heat”, he said. “This leads to increased cases of heart attacks and death”. Senior Heat Advisor, John Nairn.

According to a recent report by the UN agency, 60,000 additional people died due to extreme heat in Europe last summer despite the continent’s strong early warning and health action plans.

The agency warned of the increased risk of death through heatwaves in Asia, North Africa and the United States too.

“Heat is a rapidly growing health risk due to increased or rapid urbanization, the increasing extreme temperatures and an ageing population”, said Mr. Nairn.

According to WMO, this year’s extensive and intense heatwaves are alarming but not unexpected, as they are in line with forecasts.

The WMO expert added that “the recently declared El Niño is only expected to amplify the occurrence and intensity of extreme heat events. “And they will have quite serious impacts on human health and livelihoods.”

Meanwhile, the WMO is examining any potential “new temperature records” as intense heatwaves grip the southern USA, Mediterranean, North Africa, Middle East and some countries in Asia, including China.

WMO is currently verifying two temperature readings of 54.4°C (130°F), recorded at Death Valley, California, on 16 August 2020 and again on 9 July 2021.

“If validated, this would be the highest temperature on Earth since 1931 and third hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet” it said.

According to the Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes, the hottest temperature ever recorded was in Furnace Creek, Death Valley, California at 56.7°C on 10 July 1913.

WMO has accepted a new temperature record for continental Europe of 48.8°C (119.8 °F) measured in Sicily on 11 August 2021. A committee of experts has verified the accuracy of the temperature reading, but has not yet published the full report.

It is possible that this record may be broken in the coming days as the heatwave intensifies.

The previous verified record of highest maximum temperature for continental Europe is 48.0°C (118.4°F) and was set in Athens on 10 July 1977.


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