A Heat Wave Tests Europe’s Defenses. Expect More.

The Trocadéro Gardens in Paris on Friday. In the country’s south, an all-time temperature record was set.
The Trocadéro Gardens in Paris on Friday. In the country’s south, an all-time temperature record was set.Lewis Joly/Associated Press
Somini SenguptaBy Somini Sengupta

It is also unsurprising. As rising greenhouse gas emissions warm the planet (average global temperatures have gone up by around 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, since the dawn of the industrial age) more and more heat records are broken all over the world.

Pamplona, northern Spain, last week.
Pamplona, northern Spain, last week. Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press
Smoke from a wildfire, one of several in Spain, over La Palma d’Ebre on Friday.Jordi Borras/Associated Press
“It is premature to attribute the heat wave to climate change, but this is consistent with climate scenarios which predict more frequent, drawn out and intense heat events as greenhouse gas concentrations lead to a rise in global temperatures,” the World Meteorological Organization said Monday in a statement.
Worldwide, 2019 is on track to be among the hottest years on record, and Europe is on the front line. Its wealth and social safety net have kept it from being ravaged. Hospitals work. Paramedics respond. Farmers have crop insurance. The number of heat waves in France has doubled in the past 34 years and is expected to double again by 2050, while their intensity is also expected to increase, according to the national weather service, Météo-France. “This is a war, a battle on two fronts, on the front of causes and effects. We’ve got so much to do,” the French environment minister, François de Rugy, said on television Monday. “Unfortunately we’ve got to understand that these exceptional situations risk becoming more frequent.”

The Arctic would be ice-free by 2040. The Arctic is expected to be ice-free as early as the year 2040. A report from the Arctic Council states scientists believe that the summer of 2040 will witness the end of frozen north pole after a rapid shrinking of the ice coverage in the years to come.

In the Gard region of southern France, 60 fires on Friday burned 1,500 acres. In Paris, the Fire Department responded to 20 percent more emergency calls than usual. Thousands of schools shut down.

Critically, several nighttime minimum temperature records were also broken. A series of extremely hot nights can be lethal, because it deprives the body of the recovery period that normally comes after sunset.

“This was predictable,” said Cécile Duflot, former party secretary of France’s Green Party, who is now head of Oxfam France. “France is not doing enough to limit greenhouse gases. And France is not at all prepared for these heat waves. The country pretty much stopped functioning.”
Trying to cool off in Rome on Friday.Massimo Percossi/EPA, via Shutterstock
A temperature display at a bus stop in Logrono, Spain, on Saturday. Abel Alonso/EPA, via Shutterstock
In Germany, speed limits were imposed on parts of the autobahn because extreme heat can cause roads to buckle. More than 100 runners collapsed during a half-marathon in Hamburg on Sunday.In Spain, wildfires have destroyed 24,700 acres over the last several days in four different regions of the country, forcing the evacuation of some villages and closing some roads. In the worst affected region, Catalonia, a fire is believed to have started on a chicken farm; investigators are looking into whether it was caused by the spontaneous ignition of manure.

California suffered from drought in the year 2013. California has never seen such an extreme drought in the recorded history as the state’s northern Sierra Nevada mountain range supplies large amount of water to rest of the California state. Surprisingly, about 99.84% of the land in California has been suffering from drought situation and the year 2013 was the driest year ever recorded.

Last week, Italy’s Health Ministry put more than a dozen cities including Milan, Rome, Turin, Venice, Bologna and Naples on red alert as temperatures climbed above 37 degrees Celsius, or 100 Fahrenheit. Florence was still on red alert Monday. The Civil Protection Department in Rome handed out water bottles to tourists around heavily visited landmarks.

Extreme weather events have always happened, and heat waves would occur even without global warming. But a growing field of research called attribution science allows experts to assess how much global warming has stacked the deck in favor of any given weather event. These studies typically use computer models that compare the world as it is now to one in which greenhouse-gas emissions had never occurred.

The 2018 heat wave across Northern Europe, for example, was made five times more likely by climate change, according to an assessment by a group of scientists called World Weather Attribution. The year before, in 2017, a heat wave nicknamed Lucifer, which devastated the Mediterranean, was made at least 10 times more likely by climate change.

For the 2010 heat wave scientists found an 80 percent probability that it would not have happened without climate change. And, in 2003, when temperatures in some parts of France hovered around 37 Celsius for more than a week, a later attribution study found that climate change had doubled the risk.

Researchers are carrying out a rapid assessment of the current heat wave; it was expected to be issued early Tuesday.

Read More About Rising Temperatures

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Researchers are increasingly citing changes in the polar jet stream, the fast-moving river of high-altitude air currents at the top of the globe, as an additional factor.

The meandering of the polar jet stream affects weather across the Northern Hemisphere. If these meanders, or ripples, are extreme, cold Arctic air can spill southward or hotter air from the middle of the planet can move north.Some scientists have linked extreme shifts in the jet stream to global warming, theorizing that the melting of Arctic ice and the decreased temperature differential between the Arctic and lower latitudes have robbed the jet stream of some of its strength, causing it to meander more.

Climate Change can make Children Vulnerable to Human Trafficking. Natural disasters have always brought a change in the weather cycle and with this floods and drought are expected to grow making the children and grown-ups homeless. This may well drive more children around the globe into the hands vulnerable human trafficking.

According to climate models, hotter temperatures go hand in hand with what Michael E. Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, calls a “meandering, slowed jet stream that favors stalled extreme weather regimes like the ones we are seeing right now.” The jet stream is particularly “wiggly,” he went on, when the Arctic is hot.

The Arctic has been warmer over the last five years than at any time since records began in 1900.

At the Trocadéro Gardens in Paris on Friday. Lewis Joly/Associated Press
Reporting was contributed by Kendra Pierre-Louis, Raphael Minder, Adam Nossiter, Jason Horowitz, Megan Specia and Henry Fountain.