European Heatwave: The Causes and Effects of the Dangerously High Temperatures

Record temperatures have been reached in some countries and wildfires are raging as Europe faces soaring temperatures.
Chris Young

Europe's ongoing heatwave has reached dangerous levels; deaths, feared to be connected to the heatwave, have been reported in Central Europe, and parts of the continent are bracing for record-breaking heat.

While the cause of the heatwave is hard to precisely pinpoint, the effects are clear to see. Wildfires are raging in Spain and roads even deteriorating in Germany, due to the heat. We breakdown what is going on across Europe.


Why is Europe so hot?

Met Office experts report that warm air rising from north Africa is at the root of the heatwave. Northern parts of Europe, such as the UK have remained slightly cooler, due in part to the further distance from the source of the hot front and the cooling effect of the North Sea.

While it is easy to claim climate change is responsible for the heatwave, the fact that temperatures vary so much naturally, makes it difficult to definitively pin it on unnatural causes, Guardian Environment Correspondent Fiona Harvey claims.

How long will the heatwave last?

As already mentioned, northern parts of Europe are slightly cooler and the UK, for example, is expecting a cold front on Sunday that will further lower temperatures.

Other parts of Europe, where it is much hotter, may have longer to wait. France, for example, recorded its highest ever temperature at 44.3 C in Carpenteras and, along with Spain, is expecting to see a long hot summer.

However, some relief is in sight with the effects of a storm in northern Europe expected to start cooling the UK, Netherlands, Brussels and northern France, before having some effect on temperatures further south.

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What are the most extreme effects of the heatwave?

A number of deaths have been reported across France, Spain and Italy, though there has not been any immediate confirmation that they are directly connected.

In Germany, there have been reports of autobahns melting. In the province of Tarragona in Catalonia, wildfires have raised 6,500 hectares of forest and they continue to spread.

The official Twitter account for the Police in Brandenburg posted that they were left "speechless" by a man who was riding his motorbike naked, due to the heat.


As the record-breaking temperatures continue, people will likely take drastic measures to remain cool in the blistering heat.

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