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Global warming: Hundreds die as millions in 4 continents suffer from heatwaves

Global warming: Hundreds die as millions in 4 continents suffer from heatwaves

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Not only in Saudi Arabia, where over 1,000 Hajj pilgrims died of heat strokes in recent days but in other countries also, hundreds have perished and millions suffered with extreme temperatures now roiling four continents in the Northern Hemisphere of the planet in what could go down in history as the hottest summer so far in nearly 2,000 years.

Temperatures are breaking new records, causing the death of hundreds of people across Asia and Europe. Several countries have reported heat domes which occur when a strong, high-pressure system traps hot air over a region, preventing cool air from getting in and causing ground temperatures to remain high.

In Mecca, Saudi Arabia, nearly 1.8 million Muslim pilgrims, who came to the Holy City for peace, have instead seen hundreds die during the journey amid temperatures above 51 C (124 F), the media reported on Friday.

According to officials, the dead included at least 530 Egyptians who had died while participating in the Hajj rituals. Another 40 were reported missing.

Countries around the Mediterranean Sea also suffered another week of blistering high temperatures, which triggered forest fires from Portugal to Greece and along the northern coast of Africa in Algeria, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth Observatory informed.

In Serbia, health officials declared a red alert and advised people to stay indoors after the weatherman forecast temperatures of nearly 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) this week while winds from North Africa propelled a hot front across the Balkans.

In neighboring Montenegro, thousands of tourists sought relief from the sweltering heat on the beaches along its Adriatic coast.

This year, Europe has been contending with a spate of dead and missing tourists amid scorching heat. At least three tourists have died this week, officials said.

Parts of the United States Northeast and Midwest are also wilting under a heat dome, with over 86 million people under a heat alert on Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

Under its heat emergency plan, New York City said it would open its cooling centers for the first time this year, the media said.

New Delhi on Wednesday registered its warmest night in at least 55 years, with its Safdarjung Weather Observatory reporting a temperature of 35.2 C (95.4 F) at 1 am.

Temperatures normally drop at night, but scientists say climate change is causing even nighttime temperatures to rise. In many parts of the world, nights are warming faster than days, according to a 2020 study by the University of Exeter.

Officials said over 40,000 suspected heatstroke cases and at least 110 confirmed deaths between March 1 and June 18 were reported when northwest and eastern India recorded twice the usual number of heatwave days in one of the South Asia country’s longest such spells.

The ongoing heatwave conditions are occurring against a backdrop of 12 consecutive months that have ranked as the warmest on record in year-on-year comparisons, the European Union’s climate change monitoring service said.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), there is an 86 percent chance that one of the next five years will eclipse 2023 to become the warmest on record.

While overall global temperatures have risen by nearly 1.3 C (2.3 F) above pre-industrial levels, climate change is fuelling more extreme temperature peaks – making heatwaves more common, more intense, and longer-lasting.

On a global average, a heatwave that would have occurred once in 10 years in the pre-industrial climate will now occur 2.8 times over 10 years, and it will be 1.2 C warmer, according to an international team of scientists with the World Weather Attribution (WWA) group.

Scientists say heatwaves will continue to intensify if the world fails to control climate-warming emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

If the world hits 2 C (3.6 F) of global warming, heatwaves would on average occur 5.6 times in 10 years and be 2.6 C (4.7 F) hotter, according to the WWA.


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