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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.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Technology

Facebook's scandals have been great for shareholders

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios

Facebook has been embroiled in scandal for the past five years, and while the specific allegations change over time, a central theme is constant. Given the choice between commercial and moral imperatives, Facebook always seems to choose the option that is best for the share price.

Why it matters: Facebook's stock chart supports that narrative. Since the 2016 scandals alleging that the social network was infiltrated by foreign actors trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections, Facebook's revenues — and its stock — have been soaring.

Biden to tap telecom trio for NTIA, FCC posts

Jessica Rosenworcel. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to name Alan Davidson as head of the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission and Gigi Sohn as a commissioner at the FCC, according to a person familiar with the process.

Why it matters: Internet availability and affordability has been a key policy priority for the White House, but the administration lagged in tapping people for the agency posts that oversee the issues.

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