Heatwave records across Europe keep being broken this summer, providing a foretaste of climate change.
Heatwave records across Europe keep being broken this summer. June saw new all-time records set on extreme tropical-style heat across much of southern Europe.
Then in July, other records were broken, this time in countries further north and ones rarely associated with extreme heat. They included Holland, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany. The mercury in Cambridge in the UK, for instance, soared to a record of 38.7C one day last month, bringing the kind of heat previously common only in north Africa.
Nor have these heatwaves been one-off flukes of nature. The heatwaves sweeping much of Europe have almost certainly been caused by climate change, according to climate scientists.
Then August 1 saw yet another alarming record set, this one in Greenland. A local heatwave that saw the temperature rise to a positively balmy 22°C caused half of the vast ice sheet in Greenland to turn to slush.
“This is the second melt event to affect the area this year and it is on its way to breaking the record for the most water loss from an ice sheet ever recorded,” a newspaper notes. “The worst melt on record happened in 2012 and that incident involved 97% of Greenland’s ice sheet experiencing some sort of melt.”
Unleashed by the vast amount of melting ice, surging torrents of water damaged bridges in coastal towns. This record single-day loss of massive ice led to some 12.5 billion tons of ice pouring into the ocean, raising water levels. “The amount of ice that melted from the surface of the ice sheet just during the last two days would be enough to cover Florida with almost five inches of water,” a climate scientist observed.
Another two climate scientists argue that the massive melting of ice that took place in just one day in Greenland was triggered by the hot air that caused Europe’s record-breaking heatwave in July. “The pulse of warmth pushed temperatures 15 to 30 degrees above normal, and in response, the ice sheet has released billions of tons of water from surface melting,” the scientists write.
“Pools of sapphire melt water have popped up like pimples, while the usual pristine blanket of fresh snow atop the ice sheet has vanished over large areas, replaced by ash-colored ice left behind nearly 20,000 years ago,” they explain.
And the summer is hardly out yet. The rest of it could bring yet more record-breaking extreme weather events to a heat-battered continent.