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UK passes 39.1 degrees, breaking all-time record, as Europe swelters in extreme heatwave

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people shielding themselves from the heat in London, United Kingdom on July 18, 2022.
  • A temperature of 39.1 degrees was provisionally recorded Tuesday in the UK, the highest ever. 
  • Europe's record-breaking heat wave has caused raging wildfires and deaths.
  • It is another "clear indicator" that human emissions are influencing temperatures, an expert said.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

The UK provisionally recorded its highest ever temperature, 39.1°C, on Tuesday. 

It came after weather authorities, the Met Office, issued the nation's first red warning for extreme heat.

The reading was taking in Charlwood, Surrey, before midday, according to the UK's Met Office. Temperatures were forecast to rise further still through Tuesday afternoon. The previous record-high temperature was 38.7°C, recorded in 2019.

The record came on the second day of extreme heat.

The UK's Met Office said Monday night was the hottest ever night recorded in the UK. It cited a minimum temperature of 25.8°C in Kenly on the outskirts of London, though warned the reading may later be revised.

"This unprecedented red warning for extreme heat is a wake-up call about the climate emergency," Prof Hannah Cloke, natural hazards researcher at the University of Reading, said in a Monday statement to the UK's Science Media Center. 

"Even as a climate scientist who studies this stuff, this is scary. This feels real," she said.

 The current heatwave was caused by hot air heading north from Africa, where it broke a slew of local heat records in European countries like France and Spain, and sparked a wave of devastating wildfires.

Zamora, Spain, registered a record 41.8 degrees on Thursday, while two weather stations in Nîmes, France, recorded 40 degrees, the highest record for the city in July, per The Washington Post.

Fires have been blazing in the area of la Teste-de-Buch forest near in the Arcachon basin, France, on July 13, 2022

According to the Carlos III Institute, there were 510 heat-related deaths in Spain from July 10 to July 16. There were 659 heat-related deaths were recorded in Portugal over the week of July 11, per Reuters.

Neighbors collaborate in the work of extinction in a forest fire, on 17 July, 2022 seen from Sant Fruitos del Bages, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
At least 16,000 people were evacuated in Gironde, France, because of a wildfire, per the region's press office. 

The UK is not built for extreme heat, George Havenith, Professor of Environmental Physiology and Ergonomics of Loughborough University, recently told Insider. 

"The heat could be extremely damaging in countries that have not been historically hit by high temperatures."

"People here are not really trained to deal with the heat as somebody from a Southern country would."

The heatwave "is another clear indicator that emissions of greenhouse gases by human activity are causing weather extremes that impact our living conditions," Steven Pawson, chief of the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a press release.


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