Climate Change

Explained: Why heatwaves are becoming longer, more frequent

One major factor behind this is the trapped greenhouse gases caused by human activities

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 25 August 2022

Our planet is slowly burning as it suffers from the wrath of heatwaves and subsequent forest fires. Conditions have reached such extremes that NASA took to Twitter to release this map highlighting shocking ground temperatures.

In 2020, the United Kingdom met office produced a hypothetical weather forecast for July 23, 2050 based on UK climate projections. On July 19, 2022, the forecast was shockingly almost identical for large parts of the UK, nearly 28 years early.

One major factor behind this is the trapped greenhouse gases caused by human activities. It is turning our blue-green planet, RED! What we are facing currently is a prolonged sequence of sweltering days or a heatwave.

The heatwaves are getting hotter, and longer and impacting temperate zones as well. The UK is making headlines by beating its previous records multiple times in various places.

Before July 19, 2022, the UK had never witnessed temperatures above 40°C. The met office also had its first Red Extreme Heat Warning indicating a risk to life, travel, energy supply, and infrastructure.

Other parts of Europe are also prey to this heat. Parts of France, Spain, Portugal and Greece have crossed 40°C as well. Around 2,000 people died in Portugal and Spain from heat-related causes in July. Even places such as Tromsø and Mehamn above the Arctic circle touched 30°C by June end.

China’s infrastructure is also crumbling due to heat waves. Heatwaves began in June, broke previous temperature records and are estimated to last till August this year. Channel News Asia also reported that Shanghai and many other cities saw buckling streets and roof tiles popping due to the heat.

Japan also recorded above 40°C for the first time ever in June this year. Around 5,000 people were hospitalised and millions were told to conserve power due to a surge in demand.

The United States did not fare well either. The National Weather Service issued heat warnings and advisories for 28 states, mainly in the South, Midwest and Northeast. So, the northern hemisphere in general is breaking previous heat records by considerable margins and in atypical months.

Heatwaves have thus become a typical summer event, but climate change is making them globally fearsome and dangerous. 

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