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Europe Braces for Second Extreme Heat Wave This Summer

Climate
Europe is bracing for a second heat wave in less than a month. TropicalTidbits.com

Europe is gearing up for another extreme heat wave that could set all-time records for several European countries.


Paris could surpass its all-time high of 40.4 degrees Celsius on Thursday, Meteo France predicted Monday, according to The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. That record has not been broken since 1947. Overnight minimum records were already broken in Southwest France Monday night, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) tweeted.

Across the channel in the UK, records could also fall. Britain could beat its record for July, its all-time high temperature record and its overnight record, CNN reported Monday.

Wednesday and Thursday will be the hottest days of the year so far in most of England. London and Southeast England could reach 37 degrees Celsius on Thursday, which would break the July record of 36.7 degrees Celsius, recorded at Heathrow in 2015. The record for the highest minimum temperature, currently set at 23.3 degrees Celsius for July and 23.9 degrees Celsius overall, could be exceeded Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. And the all-time hottest temperature recorded in the UK — set at 38.5 degrees Celsius in Faversham in Southern England in 2003 — could also fall.

"We're certainly looking at a warm week across the country—the heat is quite widespread," a Met Office spokesperson told CNN.

Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg could also all surpass their all-time high records with highs of 39 degrees Celsius, CNBC reported.

This week's heat wave follows another spell of hot temperatures that baked Europe in late June. The earlier heat wave broke an all-time record in France when the mercury hit 46 degrees Celsius in Vérargues. It was the first time in the country's modern history that a temperature over 45 degrees had been recorded, the WMO said.

Unlike the earlier heat wave, this week's hot temperatures will also reach the UK and Scandinavia, according to The Washington Post. Spain and Portugal will also be impacted, and the dry heat is expected to lead to heightened wildfire risk.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) warned that much of France and Spain were at the highest possible risk for wildfires, and large parts of Portugal, Italy, Belgium and Germany are also at "high" or "very high" fire risk, CNBC reported.

More extreme, frequent heat waves are a widely recognized consequence of the climate crisis.

"Every heatwave occurring in Europe today is made more likely and more intense by human-induced climate change," a World Weather Attribution study of the June 2019 heat wave, which was published quickly without peer review but by experts in the field, concluded.

2018's record-breaking summer temperatures in the UK were made 30 times more likely by the climate crisis, and summers like 2018 will be the norm by 2050, occurring around every other year, the Met Office said.

This past June was the hottest June ever recorded, If July is the hottest July on record, it could also be the hottest month humans have ever measured, climate scientist Michael Mann tweeted.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.