Updated Jun 30, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Heat waves topple monthly, all-time records from Japan to Italy

Map showing 3-day temperature anomalies across Europe ending June 29, 2022.

Map showing three-day temperature anomalies across Europe, ending June 29, 2022. Source: Weatherbell.com

Monthly and all-time records have been shattered in at least a half-dozen countries, from Europe to Asia, during the past week. None of these events have been typical for June, either.

Driving the news: Japan, Italy, Norway, Iran and Finland are a few of the latest nations to see heat records fall like dominoes in an extraordinary month.

Why it matters: Studies show that as the climate warms, the frequency of heat waves dramatically increases, as do the severity and longevity of such events.

  • Research into the contributors to individual heat waves, such as last year's deadly June Pacific Northwest event, has determined that some would have been "virtually impossible" without added amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
  • Extreme heat is deadly, ranking as the top weather-related killer in the U.S. in a typical year. It can also stress power grids, especially in countries suffering drought as well as struggling with a global energy crunch in the wake of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

State of play: Rome tied its all-time hottest temperature record and set a June milestone on Tuesday, with a reading of 105.4°F. Florence and Naples also set monthly records this week, according to weather historian Maximiliano Herrera.

  • Italy is also enduring a severe drought, prompting water conservation measures in some areas. As in the U.S. Southwest, the drought may be allowing temperatures to spike even higher than they typically would.

The big picture: The Northern Hemisphere is seeing record heat in multiple places simultaneously during an atypical month for it. Most all-time heat records date to July or August.

  • With a heat dome in place over parts of Europe and low pressure to the west, ultra-hot air from Africa has been pulled north-northeast, all the way to the Arctic.
  • Tromsø, Norway, which is above the Arctic Circle, hit 86°F on June 28. This was a monthly record and came within a half-degree of an all-time record for that location.
  • Mehamn, Norway, also in the Arctic at the far northern tip of the country, reached 87.4°F on Wednesday, obliterating the previous June record of 77.7°F.
Picture of schoolchildren in Tokyo enduring the record heat wave.
A schoolboy uses a towel to shield his head from the sun at the Asakusa Temple June 30 in Tokyo. Photo: David Mareuil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Zoom in: Japan is in the grips of one of its worst heat waves on record, period, let alone in June. The heat is noteworthy both for its intensity and persistence.

Tweet showing the record heat in Japan on Thursday.
Tweet showing the record heat in Japan on Thursday, June 30, 2022.
  • "Tokyo's metropolitan government staff have been advised to work in the dark," per the Post. "In supermarkets freezers across the country, lights were switched off, and at homeware stores electrical appliances were unplugged."

The bottom line: Heat waves are a typical summer hazard, but climate change is making them, along with other extreme weather events, more dangerous, capricious and fearsome.

  • And July starts tomorrow.
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