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Computer model depiction of the combination of heat and humidity across North Africa and Europe on Wednesday. (Earth.nullschool.net)

A weather station in Sicily may have set an all-time high temperature record for all of Europe on Wednesday, when the temperature climbed to a scorching 48.8°C (119.8°F) amid a regional heat wave that has shown few signs of relenting.

The big picture: The intense heat wave continues to roast the Mediterranean and northern Africa. The hot and dry weather has played a large role in creating the conditions conducive for explosive and devastating wildfires in Turkey and Greece.

Details: Numerous monthly and national temperature records have fallen during the heat wave, including in Greece, Turkey and Tunisia, but if verified through an examination of the weather instruments, the Sicily observation would be the most noteworthy. The previous continental heat record was 48°C (118.4°F), set in Greece in 1977.

  • For the record to be considered, a committee from the World Meteorological Organization would need to investigate the instrumentation and circumstances of the data, including whether similar temperatures were observed nearby.

Context: As detailed in the IPCC climate report released Monday, human emissions of greenhouse gases are dramatically escalating the risk and severity of extreme heat events across the globe.

  • This summer has featured unprecedented heat in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., as well as in Europe. In the U.S. on Wednesday, about 170 million are under heat advisories or excessive heat warnings from the Northwest to East Coast.

The intrigue: There are some questions about the validity of the temperature reading, however. Randy Cerveny, the World Meteorological Organization's rapporteur for weather records, told the Associated Press the reading is “suspicious, so we’re not going to make any immediate determination.”

“It doesn’t sound terribly plausible,” Cerveny said. “But we’re not going to dismiss it.”

What's next: The hottest temperatures associated with this particular heat dome are expected to shift to Spain and Portugal in coming days, raising wildfire concerns in both nations.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

UN: Africa's glaciers to disappear by 2040s from climate change

Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania partially covered by clouds in December 2009. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Glaciers capping three of Africa's iconic mountains — Mount Kenya in Kenya, the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania — will likely disappear over the next two decades because of human-induced climate change, the World Meteorological Organization's estimated in a new report Tuesday.

Why it matters: The WMO warned that glacier loss is just one effect climate change will have on the continent, as rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, rising sea levels and more extreme weather will also likely exacerbate food insecurity, economic and political instability and population displacement.

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From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

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True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

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The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

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