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Heatwaves and fires in Europe, Africa, and Asia

Heatwaves and fires: Globe showing Eastern hemisphere, with red and dark red swathes across from Europe and northern Africa, into Asia.
The map above shows the surface air temperatures across most of the Eastern Hemisphere on July 13, 2022. Scientists produced it by combining observations with a version of the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) global model, which uses mathematical equations to represent physical processes in the atmosphere. Steven Pawson, chief of the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center noted a “clear pattern of an ‘atmospheric wave’ with alternating warm (redder) and cool (bluer) values in different locations.” And he added that “this large area of extreme (and record breaking) heat” – with heatwaves and fires throughout the region – is an example of weather extremes from anthropogenic global warming. Map via NASA Earth Observatory.

Heatwaves and fires in summer 2022

NASA Earth Observatory originally published this story on July 15, 2022, with the title Heatwaves and Fires Scorch Europe, Africa, and Asia. Reprinted with permission. EarthSky editors made minor edits.

In June and July 2022, heatwaves struck Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, as temperatures climbed above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in places and broke many long-standing records. In Western Europe, which was already experiencing severe drought, the heatwave fueled fires that raged across Portugal, Spain, and parts of France.

In Portugal

Temperatures in Portugal reached 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on July 13 in the town of Leiria, where more than 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) had burned. More than half of the country was on red alert as firefighters battled 14 active fires.

In Italy

The record heat in Italy contributed to the July 3 collapse of a portion of the Marmolada Glacier in the Dolomites. The avalanche of snow, ice, and rock killed 11 hikers.

In the U.K.

The U.K. Met Office issued extreme heat or amber warnings as temperatures were expected to continue to climb, possibly breaking all-time highs.

In North Africa

Tunisia in North Africa has endured a heatwave and fires that have damaged the country’s grain crop. On July 13 in the capital city of Tunis, the temperature reached 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit), breaking a 40-year record.

In Iran

Temperatures in Iran remained high in July after reaching a scorching 52 degrees Celsius (126 degrees Fahrenheit) in late June.

In China

The summer has brought three heatwaves to China that have buckled roads, melted tar, and popped off roof tiles. The Shanghai Xujiahui Observatory, where records have been kept since 1873, recorded its highest temperature ever: 40.9 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit) on July 13, 2022. High humidity and dewpoints, along with warm overnight temperatures, created potentially deadly conditions.

View of the Iberian peninsula, from space at night, with 2 dots labeled fire detections.
This image shows the locations of fire detections in Portugal and Spain as observed by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite on July 12, 2022. The prominent fire detections west of Madrid include the town of Las Hurdes where more than 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) have burned. Image via NASA Earth Observatory.

NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using GEOS-5 data from the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA GSFC and VIIRS day-night band data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership. Story by Sara E. Pratt.

Bottom line: NASA Earth Observatory reports on heatwaves and fires in Europe, Africa and Asia in summer 2022.

July 16, 2022

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