Uk heatwave 2019—Ice distribution on a construction site in Belgium. 38 °C in London. Tankers in the streets of Prague. Orange Alert in Spain. The heat wave spares no European countries. In Germany, if temperatures are only up by to 3 °C, the animals of the Berlin Zoo are already already suffering from massive heat wave. In addition to their 100 liters of water daily, each elephant receives a special shower with mud. “It’s a very special clay that these elephants take as a mud bath, they throw it on their backs and their blanks and use them as a sunscreen,” said Tobias Rade, guardian of the Berlin Zoo.
A “remarkably intense and early” heat wave – an unequivocal symptom of global warming – set in on Europe on Tuesday, with heat records expected by the end of the week.
In France, where it was 36 °C in some areas Tuesday afternoon, the 40 °C mark could be exceeded Wednesday, with an increase in heat between Thursday and Friday, according to Météo France.
“I’m an elderly person, so I stay at home,” Mireille Soler, an 80-year-old Marseillaise woman. “I drink a lot, I cool off. But it is worrying these temperatures, one wonders what it will give for the next years.
“Heat waves are the global warming marker”, summarizes Jean Jouzel, former vice-president of the UN Climate Experts (Giec), and “clearly the diagnosis is that they will become more precocious, more intense, more frequent “.
According to the Potsdam Specialized Climate Institute, the hottest summers in Europe since the year 1500 have all been recorded in the 21st century: in descending order, 2018, 2010, 2003, 2016 and 2002.
In France, for example, these last 30 years have seen twice as many heat waves as the previous period, and their frequency should double again by 2050, says Météo France, the national forecasting agency, which “worried about this” remarkably intense and early “heat wave in June.
While France keeps in memory the heat wave of 2003 which caused an excess mortality of 15,000 people, president Emmanuel Macron underlined that “the whole government” was mobilized.
Television and radio broadcast messages of caution, relayed in transport and on billboards. Some members of the opposition accuse the government of “doing too much”, but Health Minister Agnès Buzyn has taken on this mobilization.
“For all those who know, of course we do too much, but if I can avoid unnecessary deaths, I will continue to communicate on prevention,” she said on the LCI television channel.
The minister explained that she would “advise” her male colleagues in the government to temporarily give up the tie.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which distributes water on the streets of France and visits isolated people, called on the population on Tuesday to look out for the most vulnerable people in the their entourage.
“The coming days will be hard for many people, but especially for the elderly, the sick and the disabled, as well as for young children,” said Davron Mukhamadiev, Health Coordinator for Europe at the IFRC. “A phone call or a bell at the front door could save lives.”
In Spain, temperatures are expected to reach 45 °C on Friday in Girona (Catalonia) or 44 °C on Saturday and Sunday in Zaragoza (Aragon), in the Ebro Valley (north-east).
“Hell is coming”, warned the weather presenter Silvia Laplana of the TVE public channel on her Twitter account, in front of a map almost entirely tinged with red.
For Wednesday, the official Spanish meteorological service placed in orange alert (significant risk) in five northern provinces. The orange alert will be extended Thursday to a total of ten provinces in the center and north-east.
Germany is preparing to reach Wednesday 39 °C in Brandenburg, the region surrounding Berlin, where a forest fire has already ravaged 100 hectares since Monday.
“The situation is tense, but at this point, we do not plan to block roads or evacuate people,” said a police spokesman.