It’s Getting Hot in Europe, Too

Image: CDC

by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

It’s not just the U.S. experiencing dangerous climate change-fueled heatwaves this week. Eastern Europe and Siberia are also experiencing temperatures that residents and infrastructure aren’t prepared to endure.

  • This month, Moscow temperatures hit around 95 F, highs the city hasn’t experienced since 1901.
  • Other capitals across the region like Kyiv, Budapest, and Sofia have been sweating through highs the cities are poorly equipped to handle — air conditioning wasn’t necessary without human-induced global warming.

Extreme heat like this is now expected twice a decade as temperatures continue to rise. This particular weather pattern is linked to the same jet stream variation causing drought and heat in the U.S. 

Why This Matters: These scorching high temperatures are the most deadly weather events in most of Europe and Asia. Across much of Europe, air conditioning is uncommon and the continent already has the highest rate of heat-induced mortality. Even without leading to death, heat can be dangerous: for people working outside, it means doing their jobs at the risk of heat exhaustion. And temperatures are remaining high overnight, making it difficult to sleep and for the human body to recover from the day’s heat. In fact, overnight temperatures are rising faster than daytime ones, compounding the health risks of hot days. 

Yup, It’s Climate Change: Climate change makes heatwaves longer, more frequent, and more intense. As Nikos Christidis, a senior scientist at the Met Office in the U.K., told Bloomberg: “The frequency of this kind of extremely hot summers is increasing because of the influence of humans in the planet’s climate. How much and how severe the impacts are going to be depends on the levels of adaptation in each particular country.” 

Even the Arctic is Hot: This June, temperatures in the Arctic Circle were close to 90. The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the world, in part because its sea ice is melting. This year, the Laptev Sea ice coverage is at its lowest recorded extent, which measures an area in the ocean where there is some ice. (The overall area of sea ice is also at record lows.) 

The ice itself is thinning faster than expected because the old maps most science relied on were based on the assumption of thick ice that’s remained frozen for multiple years covered by snow build-up. The models are decades old, and much of the multi-year ice has now melted. “Thinner ice breaks more easily, melts faster in the summer and allows more sunlight to reach the water below,” Scientific American wrote earlier this month. “It may accelerate Arctic warming and cause ice extent to shrink even faster. It may make shipping and oil drilling easier, but ice fishing and hunting more difficult, particularly for Indigenous communities.”

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