April 19, 2024

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Cerberus heat wave threatens new record temperatures for Europe

Cerberus heat wave threatens new record temperatures for Europe

ATHENS/ROME (Reuters) – Southern Europe was hit by an extreme heatwave on Thursday, with a warning that temperatures could reach record levels on the continent next week, raising concerns about the impact on human health, crops and animals.

Weather alerts have been in place across Spain’s Canary Islands, Italy, Cyprus and Greece, with Greek authorities expecting temperatures to reach 43C (109.4F), or 44C, on Friday or Saturday.

Authorities have put an ambulance on standby near the archaeological site of the Acropolis in Athens, ready to provide first aid to tourists languishing in the heat wave, which the Italian Meteorological Society has dubbed “Cerberus”.

The European Space Agency (ESA), whose satellites monitor land and sea temperatures, said July could be a hot month.

“Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Poland are facing a major heat wave, with temperatures expected to rise to 48 degrees Celsius in Sicily and Sardinia – the highest temperatures ever recorded in Europe,” the organization said.

The impact of extreme summer heat is highlighted by research this week that said as many as 61,000 people may have died in extreme heatwaves in Europe last summer.

Governments and employers are under pressure to do more to protect workers exposed to the scorching sun in the latest heat wave, named after the three-headed dog of the underworld in Greek mythology.

There are concerns about the impact on those working outdoors in Italy after a 44-year-old man painting road signs collapsed and died this week.

“Heat is a silent killer. So that’s the main concern that people’s lives are at risk,” said climate scientist Hannah Cloke, a professor at the University of Reading, England.

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“Absolutely, we must immediately stop pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” Klok added, warning that some changes to the climate are already secured.

Burning land from the Balkans to Spain

Health authorities issued a severe red alert for 10 Italian cities over the next two days, including Rome, Florence, Bologna and Perugia.

In Greece, the government ordered a suspension of work between 12 noon and 5 pm local time (0900-1400 GMT) in areas where the heat risk is very high, and also required remote work for private sector employees with health conditions.

In the Balkans, beachgoers in the Croatian town of Nin smeared themselves with local medicinal mud to protect themselves from the sun while 56 firefighters with 20 vehicles and three planes struggled to contain a blaze near the Adriatic city of Sibenik.

Klok said the current heat wave was caused by hot air coming from the Sahara, then the air mass settled across parts of Europe.

Images taken by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-3 satellite measured the surface temperature of more than 60 degrees Celsius in the Extremadura region of western Spain on Tuesday.

Weather forecasts and official records are based on an air temperature that is much lower than the Earth’s surface reading. The European record temperature of 48.8°C was recorded in Sicily in August 2021 and this number can be exceeded.

“Next week there will be a heat wave stronger than this one, some values ​​in the south-central will be really terrible,” said Luca Lombroso, a meteorologist from the AMPRO group in Italy.

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“Between Tuesday and Wednesday in Rome and Florence we will probably exceed 40 degrees, which will also be approached in the north,” he added.

Animals also feel stressed.

Italian farmers’ group Coldiretti said milk production dropped by about 10% because cows eat less in the heat, drink more water and reduce milk production.

Additional reporting by Aiden Nolte, Michele Campas, Pietro Lombardi, Emma Pinedo and Elvis Armellini. Editing by Crispian Palmer and Emilia Sithole Matares

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