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Hit wave sparks wildfires in Europe

Posted June. 25, 2022 07:25,   

Updated June. 25, 2022 07:25


Early heat waves are raging most of Europe. Along with Spain, Germany posted highest record-breaking temperatures of exceeding 40-43 degrees Celsius. France also recorded the hottest weather in May and June in 100 years, forcing various events in the southwestern region to be canceled.

Weather analyses indicate that the intense heat wave coming from North Africa is the main cause of this unusually high temperature in Europe. Such high temperature and dry dust winds of the North African desert have caused wildfires as well. The wildfire, which started last Friday in an area southwest of Berlin, Germany, spread up to an area 20 kilometers from the city center on Sunday, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate over the weekend. Hundreds of firefighters and military helicopters were mobilized to put out the fire, and it was largely brought under control after the heavy rainfall on Monday.

In Greece, a wildfire also raged out of control in central Evia, Greece, and blaze ripped through forest. The wildfire approached roughly 800 meters from the residential areas, forcing the evacuation of many residents. Firefighters in Catalonia, Spain said more than 200 wildfires were reported in the past week.

A heat wave in one area leads to torrential rain in another area. This is because humidity in the atmosphere increases by 7 percent for every one-degree Celsius hike in temperature, leading to a sudden downpour of water-laden air.

According to CNN on Tuesday, the heaviest downpours fell in southern China in 60 years, killing at least 32 people. In southern Guangdong province, 500,000 people were affected by floods and landslides. More than 177,600 people were evacuated with 1,729 homes destroyed. At least seven provinces in China are expected to have been hit by floods, while precipitation in Guangxi, Guangdong and Fujian provinces reached its highest since 1961. According to China’s state news agency Xinhua, the three provinces averaged 621 millimeters of rain from May 1 to June 15, which is equivalent to an average of 672.1 millimeters nationwide last year.

Experts point out that climate change and extremely high temperatures are closely related. According to Our World In Data, an international statistical site, global fossil fuel emissions increased from 9,400 tons in 1960 to whopping 35,000 tons in 2020. In March, the highest temperatures in 122 years were recorded in India and Pakistan, and the frequency of heat waves in Southeast Asia has increased by 30 times since industrialization, a study found.

In April, the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which was released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) under the United Nations, contained a grim outlook that even if each country achieves its greenhouse gas emission reduction target, the global temperature will rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius over the next 10 years.

Min Kim kimmin@donga.com