In photos: First the record heat came to Greece, then the deadly wildfires
Over 500 firefighters have been leading efforts to control wildfires near Athens, with Greece’s fire service saying on Wednesday that it hopes to bring the flames under control "in the coming hours," AFP reports.
The big picture: More than 75 wildfires broke out in Greece on Tuesday and Wednesday as the country faces its most intense heat wave in decades — temperatures in Athens have reached 43°C (109.4°F), according to Meteo France meteorologist Etienne Kapikian.
- This was a record high for any time of the year, Kapikian reported via Twitter. All-time and monthly records were set elsewhere across Greece and in Turkey, where fires are also raging amid searing, prolonged heat.
- Some locations also set records for the highest overnight temperatures seen for the entire European continent, though Europe's all-time high-temperature record of 48°C (118.4°F) remains intact.
- Thousands of people across Greece have been forced to evacuate due to the raging wildfires, while some in Athens are being advised to stay indoors.
- The extreme heat prompted the Ministry of Culture to close the Acropolis and other ancient sites during the afternoons this week, CNN reports.
Context: The heat wave can be traced to persistent winds from the southwest, transporting air from Africa across the mild waters of the Mediterranean, along with a high-pressure area, or "heat dome," sitting over southeastern Europe.
- Extreme heat waves are also among the clearest manifestations of human-caused global warming, studies show.