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‘Study global warming impact, form climate adaptation plans’: Govt to states

BySoumya Pillai, New Delhi May 28, 2023 05:15 AM IST Share Via Copy Link States will have to formulate local climate adaptation plans, which will help create an expansive database on the impact of climate crisis. All states need to…


Drought to deluge: Heavy rain causes flash flooding across southern Spain

Rains still continue; this spring had been Spain’s driest on record through May 21

Murcia President Fernando Lopez Miras taking stock of the situation. Photo: @LopezMirasF / Twitter Murcia President Fernando Lopez Miras taking stock of the situation. Photo: @LopezMirasF / Twitter

Torrential rains have swept over the coastal southeast of Spain following a long drought. The much-needed rain came faster than the cities could handle, reported news agency Anadolu Agency.

Rivers broke their banks following rains that began May 22, 2023, while flash floods cut off roads, entered homes and seriously damaged crops, the report added. Education in Alicante and Murcia cities was disrupted as more than 40 municipalities cancelled classes.

The largest storm tank in the Region of Murcia is already operating at full capacity in Torre Pacheco. During the last hours, it has received 40,000 cubic metres of water, preventing it from entering the Mar Menor, tweeted the water and sanitation department for Murcia. Murcia President Fernando Lopez Miras took stock of the situation. 

Aielo de Malferit municipality in Valencia province broke its single-day rainfall record on May 24, 2023. The municipality recorded 117.6 litres while the rains continued in the region, claimed meteorological website Meteo Aielo

The heaviest rains in the morning of May 24 were concentrated between the Coast, the Canal de Navarrés and the Vall d’Albaida, tweeted Spanish meteorological association Avamet.

Spain is one of several countries this year that was facing extreme dry conditions and suddenly faced flash floods after torrential rain. 

Through March this year, Somalia was one of the countries in the Horn of Africa that entered the sixth consecutive wet season with no rain. However, around May 14, riverine floods in the country killed over 20 people.

Heavy rains also wreaked havoc in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. Twenty-one rivers swelled over their banks following rains that began May 2, leading to deaths of at least 13 people and forcing the evacuation of thousands. 

In Spain, almost 400,000 inhabitants have been affected by the closures, which have also included municipal sports facilities, public parks and gardens, reported Spanish news website, The Local

Almeria saw its single rainiest day on record on May 22, according to Spain’s official meteorological agency, Aemet. Almeria usually sees just 12 litres of rain for all of May, but Monday alone, the airport station witnessed 56 litres.

Emergency services battled to drain heavily inundated streets in Cartagena city, reported news agency Reuters. Local television footage showed water almost completely covering parked cars and motorbikes. 

Through May 21, this spring had been Spain’s driest on record. April was also the driest and hottest since record-keeping began. Spain’s Environment Ministry said reservoir levels had even decreased nationally in the last week to 47.7 per cent of capacity — 21 percentage points below the 10-year average for this time of year.

Nationwide precipitation between October 2022 and May 21 of this year was 28 per cent lower than the average for the period, Reuters reported AEMET spokesperson. The rains could help mitigate the prolonged drought afflicting Spain. 


Hottest days are warming twice as fast as average summer temperature in north-west Europe: Research

Climate change is causing Spain and north Africa to warm faster than north-west Europe

On July 19 2022, the UK experienced its highest ever temperature. At 40.3℃ (Coningsby, Lincolnshire), the temperature surpassed the previous record of 38.7℃ (Cambridge) – a record that had been set a mere three years previously. My new study shows that this is part of a long-running trend of increasing heat extremes in north-west Europe.

I examined trends in the temperature of the hottest summer day across north-west Europe and compared this to trends in average summer temperatures. My results, published in Geophysical Research Letters, suggest that between 1960 and 2021, north-west Europe has seen its hottest days warm by around 0.6℃ per decade – double the rate at which the region’s average summer days have warmed.

The trend suggests that the region could suffer extremely hot days more often in the future. But this trend isn’t captured in current climate models. While state-of-the-art climate models correctly simulated the trend in average summer temperatures, they failed to capture the enhanced warming of the extremes.

These same climate models are, however, often used to inform impact assessments of climate change. So their inability to simulate the magnitude of trends in extreme temperatures in north-west Europe means that the heat-related impacts of climate change may be underestimated in the short term – and inadequately prepared for as a result.

This is concerning. Infrastructure in north-west Europe is already poorly equipped to deal with extremely hot weather. And extreme heat can have several negative effects on human health and society.

A map showing temperature trends in the hottest and average days across Europe.
Trends in daily maximum temperatures spanning the period 1960-2021 for a) the average summer (June-July-August) day, b) the hottest day in each summer and c) the difference. Patterson (2023), CC BY-NC-ND

Imported air

The mechanism causing the temperature trends to differ for this region is not yet understood. But the hottest summer days in north-west Europe are often linked to the movement of hot air from over Spain or the Sahara. This was certainly the case in both July last year and July 2019.

Climate change is causing Spain and north Africa to warm faster than north-west Europe. My study found that between 1960 and 2021, the UK warmed by around 0.25℃ per decade compared to more than 0.5℃ per decade for much of Spain. Consequently, plumes of increasingly hot air that are carried north from these regions will bring high temperatures relative to the ambient air temperature of north-west Europe – these temperatures often exceed the threshold to be classified as “extreme”.

Climate models that show Spain and north Africa warming faster than north-west Europe also tend to see a greater rise in heat extremes in north-west Europe relative to mean warming in the future. Although adding further strength to this hypothesis, further work is needed to test the idea more rigorously.

Other possible hypotheses for the enhanced warming of heat extremes include changes to the atmospheric circulation patterns that drive heatwaves. Heatwaves are usually associated with high-pressure “anticyclonic” systems that push warm air northwards. These weather systems are accompanied by clear skies that allow the sun to heat the land.

There is some evidence that the increased occurrence of weather patterns like this could account for the rapid rise in very hot days.

Should we be worried?

The rising intensity of extreme heat in north-west Europe is worrying. Research has found that extreme heat can exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and increase the risk of suffering heat stroke. This will put a strain on the health and emergency services.

Much of the infrastructure in the UK – and north-west Europe – is also not designed to deal with extreme heat. In the past, heatwaves have damaged road surfaces and have caused rails to buckle (where they expand and start to curve), leading to severe delays on rail services. On July 19 2022, for example, soaring temperatures meant no trains ran into or out of London King’s Cross rail station.

Homes in the UK also heat up much faster than those in other European countries. According to one study, the temperature inside an average British home will increase by 5℃ in just three hours when the outside temperature is 30℃. That is more than double the rate at which homes across much of western Europe will gain heat.

Yet little is being done to help the same infrastructure cope with even hotter weather in the future. A recent report by the Climate Change Committee, an independent body advising the UK government on its response to climate change, found that the government is not taking sufficient action to adapt to climate change. The report highlighted the need to better heat-proof homes and mitigate wildfire risk as high temperatures become more common.

Over the past 60 years, north-west Europe’s hottest days have become much warmer. These findings indicate that the region is already dealing with the effects of climate change and underline the urgent need to adapt systems and infrastructure to help this area withstand it. From a scientific perspective, we must identify the reasons for the enhanced warming of heat extremes in order to improve current models and find out if this pattern is likely to continue in the future.The Conversation

Matthew Patterson, Postdoctoral Research Assistant in in Atmospheric Physics, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

South Australia rushes through anti-protest laws as activists rally outside oil and gas conference

South Australia has rushed through anti-protest laws less than a day after a rally outside the annual oil and gas conference in Adelaide briefly closed traffic. The extraordinary move – which appears to have been hashed out on talkback radio…

Hottest days are warming twice as fast as average summer temperature in north-west Europe — new research

On July 19 2022, the UK experienced its highest ever temperature. At 40.3℃ (Coningsby, Lincolnshire), the temperature surpassed the previous record of 38.7℃ (Cambridge) – a record that had been set a mere three years previously. My new study shows…

‘Even in the realms of extreme, it’s extreme’: how UK music festivals are planning for freak weather

Wellies and sun hats are the traditional first guard against the elements at festivals, but this summer they may not be enough to protect revellers. Flood defences, wildfire response teams and satellite weather-monitoring technology are among the ways UK music…

Global warming is killing Indians and Pakistanis – The Economist

In the opening scenes of “The Ministry for the Future”, the novelist Kim Stanley Robinson imagines what happens to a small Indian town hit by a heatwave. Streets empty as normal activity becomes impossible. Air-conditioned rooms fill with silent fugitives…

Eco-Nuisance: Brits Set Roadblocks On Fire To Protest Low-Traffic Neighborhoods

Britons across the country have been setting roadblocks on fire in a demonstration against the introduction of low-traffic neighborhoods. The scheme was designed to encourage people to cycle and walk instead of driving in typically residential streets. They were introduced…

The 50 States of Climate Change – Outside Online – Outside

Since the 1700s, the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has increased by 40 percent, largely from greenhouse gasses released by people burning fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal. As a result, the climate is becoming more…

Australia faces unprecedented grassfires next summer ‘supercharged’ by global heating

Australia should prepare for grassfires on a scale not experienced before, with new analysis warning spring and summer 2023-24 could see widespread fire risk “supercharged” by the climate crisis. The report, by the Climate Council and Emergency Leaders for Climate…

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