The Northern Hemisphere witnessed one of its hottest summer in years amid unusually high temperatures, from Tokyo to London. While summer has often been regarded as a relief from the chilly weather throughout much of the year in Europe, the record-breaking heatwaves this year have instead became a cause of public health concerns and has raised questions if more of such weather patterns will be experienced in the near future. On top of heat-related illnesses, devastating wildfires also swept through different parts of the continent with Greece being the worst-affected country.
New records were set throughout this period with Glasgow experiencing its hottest day ever in June with temperature hitting 31.9 C, while Sweden had its hottest July in 260 years as the mercury in Stockholm soared to 22.4 C. In the south, which is no stranger to such hot summer weather, warnings have also been issued for Spain and Portugal where temperatures could reach 48.0 C at some locations. Although this year’s summer was rather unprecedented with temperature records being smashed, it is still not a straightforward answer on its link to climate change, as claimed by some. This is because it is impossible to connect individual events to climate change as a lot of natural variability should be taken into consideration.
Despite this, scientists have tried to offer some clues if the recent heatwave is a sign of things yet to come. It is important to note that the erratic weather does not only involve extreme heat but also thunderstorms as seen in parts of Europe. It has been predicted that by 2060, temperatures that used to be regarded as unusual will become a norm. The high temperatures that have been scorching the continent are likely to occur once every two years up until then. Additionally, scientists have warned that two out of three Europeans could also be facing an extreme climate event annually if global warming is left unchecked.
Back to present day, the record heatwave this year caused significant disruptions to travelers in the continent. Rail services were delayed as tracks buckled and air-conditioning units gave way. On the Eurotunnel for instance, vacation seekers were forced to wait for hours as air-conditioning on board the train failed. The hot conditions also triggered wildfires in a number of countries from Sweden in the north to Spain down in the south. Greece became the worst-hit country where 88 people perished in wildfires that swept through the Mati region near Athens. Residents were forced to flee to the seaside as the blaze quickly destroyed their properties.
As mentioned, climatologists have warned that such extreme weather would be more common in the future in both the northern and southern hemispheres. It is expected that by 2100, at least 74% of the world’s population could be affected by heatwave compared to the current 30%. As such, it is best to ensure that one is always ready to cope with such weather wherever they are.
Here is some practical advice by GWS on how to best deal with the heatwave season:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- Eat small meals and eat more often.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, clothing made from natural fibres. Avoid dark colours.
- Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
- If you are travelling, reschedule your outdoor activities to earlier or later parts of the day. Visit to an indoor side such as a museum or art galleries are highly advisable between 12:00-17:00 to escape the heat.
- Check with transport providers for latest service updates.
- Listen to local media and weather advisories in the case of a prolonged heat wave. Adhere to any official advice.