Europe is currently experiencing an incredible heatwave. It’s been so hot that it’s been compared to the 2003 European heatwave, which killed over 70,000 people. The record-breaking temperatures have resulted in wildfires across the continent, as well as threats to public health and safety. If you live in Europe and are wondering how to prepare for future heatwaves like this one—or if you’re just curious about what’s going on—read on for our guide:
Heatwaves can cause a number of health problems, including heat stroke and dehydration. Heat exhaustion and heat cramps are also common during high temperatures. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is no longer able to replace lost fluids by sweating alone, causing it to send blood from the skin to other internal organs in an attempt to cool down. Symptoms include weakness or fatigue, headache or dizziness, nausea or vomiting, fast heartbeat (tachycardia), dry mouth, heavy sweating without relief from the heat and clammy skin that may be pale but with bluish tinge (cyanosis). Heat cramps occur due to loss of salt and water through sweat; they usually begin with mild muscle aches followed by painful spasms in larger muscles such as those in your legs or abdomen.
The current heatwave is the longest in Europe since 2003. The last major heatwave of that year resulted in over 70,000 deaths across Europe, making it the second deadliest on record. It lasted 10 days and was also the second longest heatwave since 2003. The current European heatwave has reached temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 °F). This is significantly higher than average summer temperatures for most countries in Europe.
While it’s tempting to blame the scorching heat wave on a variety of other factors, such as pollution or low humidity, climate change is likely what’s causing this kind of extreme weather. That’s because global warming is driving two important changes in our planet that make heat waves more likely. First, as the atmosphere gets warmer, it retains more energy and moisture. This makes it more difficult for air to cool off at night—which means air temperatures can rise much higher than they used to be able to (and stay there longer). Second, rising greenhouse gas emissions are causing the jet stream—the current of air that moves between areas with warm and cold climates—to swing farther north than normal.* This causes large areas of Europe to experience hotter temperatures during summer months.
We hope that this article has helped you understand the climate change-related impacts of the European heatwave and how it affects us. If a heatwave comes to your area, know how to prepare for it and take care of vulnerable people in your area.