Several hundred firefighters have been combating Catalonia wildfires as the heatwaves across Europe increase temperatures to record-breaking levels. According to officials, the escalating fires are the most severe in the region over the last 20 years. Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic had the highest June temperatures they’ve ever seen. Meteorologists believe hot air brought in from upper Africa is responsible.
Meteorologists predict that temperatures will increase in several countries over the next three days. Turin, Italy hit afternoon temperatures of 39C; Zaragoza, Spain hit 41C; and Avignon, France reached 40C. Wildfires have affected roughly 4,000 hectares around the town of La Torre de l’Espanyol, 80km from the coastal city of Tarragona. 30 people were evacuated and five roads have been shut down.
According to the regional interior Minister, Miquel Buch, the fire could have been a result of “an accumulation of manure in a farm that generated enough heat to explode and generate sparks”. An estimated 11 provinces in eastern and central Spain are expected to reach temperatures higher than 40C, and north-east areas might reach up to 45C. Temperatures are also anticipated to exceed 40C in Italy as well, especially in central and northern regions.
Consequences of the heatwave
The body of a 72 year old homeless man around the central Milan train station; the heat is thought to potentially be an influence in his death. Fountains and sprinklers linked to hydrants have been set up in Paris, and several schools have been postponed and some have even closed. In Toulouse where temperatures are likely to hit 41C, charities have been providing water to the homeless.
Is global warming the cause?
Although heatwaves do occasionally take place naturally, experts believe that such events will increase significantly due to climate change. Records from the 1800s reveal that average temperatures of the planet’s surface have risen by approximately one degree since the industrial revolution.