As climate change bakes Europe, heatwaves like “Lucifer” are the new normal
Extreme heatwaves like the recent one dubbed “Lucifer” by the media will become commonplace in Southern Europe over the next 30 years, a number of prominent researchers in Europe warned in a press statement on Wednesday.
By James Ayre
For those who don’t live in the region, I should note here that the recent “Lucifer” heatwave brought lingering heat in excess of 40° Celsius (104° Fahrenheit) to many regions.
While those who live in the less hospitable parts of Australia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, or North America may not think that those temperatures sound too bad, it should be realized here that acclimatization counts for a lot, as does the existence (or not) of air conditioning and/or basements.
Also noteworthy is that, when the mercury climbs that high in regions where such temperatures are rare, wildfires tend to break out en masse — oftentimes considerably worsening heat and adding the additional stressors of smoke and air pollution.
The new press statement warns that if people don’t prepare for these increasingly common heatwaves, they will claim more and more lives as time goes by.
“In the early 1900s, a summer like the one we just experienced would have been extremely rare,” stated Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, a senior researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. “Across southern Europe, there is now a one in 10 chance of seeing a heatwave as hot as we saw during this past summer every summer.”
Reuters provides more: “Heatwaves like Lucifer, which fanned forest fires and damaged crops in Europe in August, are now at least four times more common than they were a century ago, said the World Weather Attribution (WWA), a coalition of international scientists.
“Such weather will become typical in southern Europe by mid-century if greenhouse gases continue to increase in the atmosphere, according to climate model simulations by WWA, which assesses climate change’s influence on extreme weather. World temperatures hit a record high for the third year in a row in 2016, scientists said in January.
“The intensity of heatwaves in Europe has also increased by 1° to 2° Celsius since 1950, WWA said. More than 35,000 people died during a European heatwave in 2003, and tens of thousands perished in Russia during extreme heat in 2010. … During Lucifer, emergency admissions to hospital in Italy increased by 15%, WWA said.”
On a related topic, we recently reported on the increasingly dangerous situation on the Indian subcontinent — where temperatures in some regions are already approaching the point at which humans will be unable to survive there. The question posed in that article was: What Happens To The Indian Subcontinent’s ~2 Billion People As The Temperatures Continue Climbing?
Arguably, a similar question can be asked about much of Southern Europe, and the Southern United States.