Jul 25, 2019

Historic heat wave shatters all-time temperature records across Europe

A boy attempting to cool off under a public water spray in Paris. Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

A blistering heat wave across Europe shattered a number of all-time temperature records across the continent on Thursday.

By the numbers: On Thursday, Paris reached 42.6°C (108.7°F) — by far its hottest temperature on record, according to Météo-France.

Other places broke all-time records as well:

  • The Netherlands at 4o.4°C (104.7°F).
  • Belgium at 40.6°C (105°F).
  • Germany at 41.5°C (106.7°F), according to the German Weather Service, and reported by DPA News.
  • London broke its July temperature record at Heathrow Airport with 36.9°C (98.4°F) with the country's all-time temperature record at risk, according to the Met Office.

The big picture: Many indoor homes and gathering places across Europe do not have air conditioning, often an expected feature in the U.S., leaving both the elderly and very young especially at risk during extreme heat events.

Why it matters: A repeated trend toward record-breaking temperatures is indicative of a warming climate, driven by human activity. Climate change increases the odds that similar extreme heat events will occur throughout the world.

  • Climate scientists warn that heat waves that are now considered exceptional events will become the norm in coming decades if emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases are not sharply curtailed.

Go deeper: Earth's 5 warmest years on record have occurred since 2014

Go deeper

Europe endures a 2nd wave of record-breaking extreme heat

Paris is forecast to smash its all-time temperature high on Thursday. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

Records have begun to tumble across Western Europe as a second blistering summer heat wave struck — and forecasters warn the worst is far from over.

Details: The historic heat wave has shattered hottest temperature records in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and France, as the extreme weather system spreads. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the heat would exacerbate drought in some areas and "fuel the risk of wildfires."

Go deeperArrowJul 25, 2019

All the global temperature records broken in 2019, so far

Data: NASA GISS; Graphic: Harry Stevens/Axios

The world's top 5 warmest years on record have occurred since 2014 — and it's almost certain that 2019 will be added to this list as well.

Why it matters: Such trends are indicative of long-term global warming due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels for energy and transportation, cutting down forests for agriculture and other purposes. Only 1 of the top 20 warmest years on record since instrument data began in 1880 took place before the year 2000. With greenhouse gas concentrations in the air at their highest level in 3 million years, the odds favor more record-shattering years in the future.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 18, 2019

July 2019 was the hottest month on record

Photo: Samuel Boivin/NurPhoto via Getty Images

July 2019 was confirmed as the hottest month ever recorded, slightly topping or equal to global temperatures in July 2016, according to the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).

The big picture: Regions around the world have seen unrelenting, record-breaking temperatures this summer, causing dangerous conditions and deaths throughout. Studies have shown that the increase in the frequency of heat waves and the rise in global temperatures is symptomatic of human-caused climate change.

Go deeperArrowAug 5, 2019