Heat waves swept across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa in June and July 2022. The temperatures in many regions soared above 40 degrees Celsius.
NASA has imaged the heat waves and fires across Asia, Europe and Africa.
Due to record-breaking temperatures, wildfires have erupted in several regions of Europe. On July 19, 2022, Britain recorded its hottest day ever, following which warnings were issued.
Mass evacuations were being carried out due to the wildfires across large areas of Europe.
Hundreds of people have died in Spain and Portugal due to the heat waves.
Earlier this month, the Met Office, the national weather service of the UK, had issued a rare ‘Amber Weather Warning’ that covers most of England and half of Wales.
Grain harvest in North Africa is affected due to heat waves and wildfires.
In some areas of Kuwait and Iraq, the temperatures have been found to stay above 50 degrees Celsius for weeks.
NASA’s Map Showing Warm And Cool Regions
NASA recently released a map depicting the warm regions of the world in red and cool regions in blue. In the map, one can see the surface air temperatures across most of the Eastern Hemisphere on July 13, 2022.
Scientists have created the map by combining observations made using a version of the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) global model.
The model represents physical processes in the atmosphere using mathematical equations.
In a statement released by NASA Earth Observatory, Steven Pawson from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said the large area of extreme and record-breaking heat is a “clear indicator that emissions of greenhouse gases by human activity are causing weather extremes that impact our living conditions”. He explained that there is a “clear pattern” of an ‘atmospheric wave’ with alternating warm and cool values in different regions. The redder colours represent warm locations while the bluer colours denote cool areas.
Heat Waves And Wildfires Across Asia, Africa, Europe
The heatwave in western Europe resulted in wildfires across Portugal, Spain, and some areas of France. On July 13, 2022, the temperatures in Leiria, Portugal soared higher than 45 degrees Celsius. The wildfires burnt more than 3,000 hectares of land. As many as 14 active fires erupted. Because of the extreme heat waves and wildfires, more than half of Portugal was on red alert.
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite has imaged locations of fire detections in Portugal and Spain. In the above image, these Aras can be seen.
Wildfires have badly affected Las Hurdes, Spain, burning more than 1,500 hectares of land.
Due to extreme heat in Italy, a portion of the Marmolada Glacier in the Dolomites collapsed. An avalanche of snow, ice, and rock occurred, killing 11 hikers.
Tunisia in North Africa has been affected by a heatwave and fires that damaged the country’s grain crop. The capital city of Tunis witnessed a record-breaking temperature of 48 degrees Celsius on July 13, 2022. This was the highest temperature recorded in Tunisia in 40 years.
Temperatures have remained high in Iran throughout July. In late June, the temperatures reached a scorching 52 degrees Celsius.
China experienced three heat waves during the summer of 2022. On July 13, 2022, the Shanghai Xujiahui Observatory recorded a temperature of 40.9 degrees Celsius. This is the highest temperature the observatory has ever recorded. Records have been kept in the observatory since 1873.
Several regions in China experienced high humidity and warm overnight temperatures, all of which resulted in potentially deadly conditions.
Pawson said that such extreme heat has direct impacts on human health, and has other consequences, including fires. Wildfires are occurring now in Europe and Africa and have frequently occurred in North America over the past few years.
What Is Causing The Heatwave In The UK And Other Regions Of Europe?
According to the Met Office, heatwaves are most common in summer when high pressure develops across an area, and can occur in the UK due to the location of the jet stream, which is usually to the north of the UK in the summer.
The jet stream is a core of strong winds around five to seven miles above the Earth’s surface, blowing from west to east, and causes changes in the wind and pressure at that level, affecting things nearer the surface, such as areas of high and low pressure. This helps shape the weather.
Slower jet streams can allow high pressure to develop over the UK, resulting in persistent dry and settled weather.
A system called the Azores High is responsible for the UK heatwave. The Azores High is a large, persistent atmospheric high-pressure centre that develops over the subtropical region of the eastern North Atlantic Ocean during the winter and spring seasons in the Northern Hemisphere, and moves westward during the summer and fall.
Climate change has intensified the heat waves and wildfires across Europe.