Europe needs to prepare for temperatures of 50C in future, Met Office warns

‘The chances each summer of seeing really extreme temperatures are pretty high now’

Joe Middleton
Friday 13 August 2021 01:01
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Europe needs to brace itself for further record-breaking temperatures of 50C and higher, weather experts at the Met Office have warned.

On Wednesday the mercury hit 48.8C in Syracuse, Italy, which if confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization, will break the previous highest of 48.0°C in Athens in 1977.

In a blog post on Thursday, experts from the Met Office said that climate change meant Europe can expect further soaring temperatures.

Professor Peter Stott, who leads climate attribution at the Met Office, said: “Climate change is making heat-related extremes of weather more intense and when we think about those record-breaking temperature the chance of breaking temperature records – or coming close to breaking records – is greatly increased.

“Record-breaking temperatures in June 2019 saw the French temperature record exceed 45.0°C for the first time, and our analysis found that event was at least five times more likely because of climate change.

“Although we haven’t yet been able to run an in-depth study on the current situation, I think it’s going to be clear that climate change has made this current event more extreme.”

The blog added that average temperatures have risen by around 1.1C since the pre-industrial period (1850-1900), but that in some regions, such as North Africa, it has increased by more.

Professor Stott said: “The chances each summer of seeing really extreme temperatures are pretty high now. We can’t say exactly when it is likely to happen, but Europe will need to prepare for the eventuality of further records being broken with temperatures above 50.0°C being possible in Europe in future, most likely close to the Mediterranean where the influence of hot air from North Africa is strongest.”

Chris Almond, a meteorologist in the Met Office’s Global Guidance Unit warned that climate change meant the team are seeing “more frequent and severe events, and will continue to do in the future.”

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