- By Environmental Correspondents Matt McGrath & Guy Hedgecoe
- BBC News, in Cardiff and Madrid
Spain recorded its hottest temperature ever for April on Thursday, reaching 38.7C according to the country’s meteorological service.
The record number was reached at Cordoba airport in southern Spain just after 17:00 local time (16:00 BST).
For days, a severe heatwave hit the country with temperatures 10-15C warmer than expected in April.
It is driven by a very hot air mass from Africa, coupled with a slow-moving weather system.
“This is not normal. The temperature this year is completely out of control,” Cayetano Torres, a spokesman for Spain’s meteorological office, told BBC News.
Experts have been amazed at the scale of heat experienced across southern Spain in recent days.
“This temperature event in Spain is extremely severe, unprecedented with temperatures never seen before in April. In some locations records are being broken by a margin of 5C, this is which happens only a few times at weather stations around the world.” Maximiliano Herrera, a climatologist who runs a Temperature extremes Twitter account.
Schools will be allowed to adjust their schedules to avoid the worst of the heat. The Madrid metro has trains passing by more often than usual to avoid long waits on the platform, and public swimming pools are expected to open a month earlier than usual.
Cristina Linares, a scientist at the Carlos III Health Institute, specifically warns of the impact on the poor. +
“Poverty is a key factor when it comes to explaining why there are more heat-related deaths. Income is the factor most strongly associated with the impact of heat on deaths. daily death.”
Heat waves are also hitting many locations around the globe as climate change exacerbates naturally high temperatures.
While parts of the UK are currently cooler than average, the opposite is true in many parts of Spain.
Meteorologists say a combination of factors is responsible for the unusual temperatures there this week.
The heat across North Africa is pushing heat into Europe. The high-pressure weather system plus clear skies over the Iberian peninsula are allowing more sunlight to hit a ground that is already so dry that heat cannot evaporate.
High temperatures are accompanied by prolonged drought in many parts of Spain. The reservoirs in the Guadalquivir basin are only at 25% capacity.
The combination is increasing the likelihood of an early wildfire, with the national weather service warning that large swaths of the country will be at risk. Spain sees the most land burned of any country in Europe in 2022.
According to experts in the field, climate change is most likely to play a role in this heat wave.
Dr Samantha Burgess from the Copernicus climate change service told BBC News: “We know that 2022 is the second hottest year on record in Europe and it’s the hottest summer on record.”
“Europe is warming at twice the rate of global warming and we know because the higher the rate of warming, the higher the likelihood of extreme events. And those extreme events include heatwaves as well. hot.”
In addition to the impact on young and old, another concern is agriculture.
Many farmers are struggling due to a constant lack of rain, the government in Madrid has asked the European Union for financial support.
Some landowners say they won’t grow crops due to dry conditions, which could affect food supplies across Europe.
This heatwave in Spain is not an isolated event – high temperatures worldwide for the first few months of this year have broken records.
Eight countries in Central and Eastern Europe have set new records for the warmest January weather on the first day of this year.
Countries across Asia have seen extreme heat in recent weeks. In northwestern Thailand, the temperature reached 45.4 degrees Celsius on April 15, while in Laos it reached 42.7 degrees Celsius.
In Bangladesh, the capital Dhaka saw temperatures rise above 40 degrees Celsius, believed to be the hottest day in 58 years.
Another factor that is likely to affect weather around the world in the coming months is the possibility of an El Niño event.
This will see more heat emerge in the Pacific ocean off the coast of Peru. If that happens, then 2024 could become the world’s hottest year on record, with more hurricanes, fires and floods.
“We seem to be living in a new normal here,” said Dr Fahad Saeed, from the research organization, Climate Analysis.
“People in regions like Asia are the ones that have adapted to these kinds of extreme temperatures for thousands of years, but now it’s beyond their ability to adapt.”
“That’s why we’re seeing heat-related deaths soar every year in this part of the world.”
Graphics by Erwan Rivault.