Why heatwaves and wildfires are scorching Europe

Vivek Mishra
Vivek MishraJul 20, 2022 | 12:18

Why heatwaves and wildfires are scorching Europe

The record-breaking heat and dry weather have triggered wildfires across Europe. (Getty Images)

When you think of Europe, you mostly think of cold temperatures. But this summer, the continent is facing one of the worst heatwaves.

Sweltering temperatures have hit most of Europe and the United Kingdom on Tuesday reported temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius, its highest ever.

Extreme heatwave warnings were issued in France and record July temperatures were reported in the Netherlands.


In Paris, the thermometer crossed the 40 degree Celsius for just the third time this summer.

The record-breaking heat and dry weather have triggered wildfires across Europe. At least 1,000 deaths have been attributed to the heatwave in Portugal and Spain so far, reported CNN.

Not just Europe: In summer 2022, multiple heatwaves around the world shattered temperature records and fueled wildfires. Heatwaves struck Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, in June and July 2022 as temperatures climbed above 40 degrees Celsius in places and broke many long-standing records, reported NASA.

Wildfires: Wildfires in France, Spain, Portugal, UK and Greece have forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes.

Two people were killed by forest fires in Spain's north-western Zamora region and trains in the area were halted because of fire near the tracks. An elderly couple died while trying to escape fires in northern Portugal, reported BBC.

Fire incidents are on a rise in the UK and other parts of Europe too due to the extreme heat.


Why is it so hot? Experts have blamed climate change for the soaring temperatures across the world, especially Europe, and have warned that worse is yet to come.

  • “Climate change is intensifying these heat waves as greenhouse gas increases raise temperatures and a warmer, more thirsty atmosphere dries out the soil, so that more of the sun’s energy is available to heat the ground rather than evaporating water,” said Prof Richard Allan, of the University of Reading.
  • A high pressure system called the Azores High, which usually sits off Spain, has grown larger and pushed farther north, bringing high temperatures to the UK, France and the Iberian peninsula, reported The Guardian.
  • The buildup of CO2 from burning fossil fuels has made heat waves more intense and more frequent across the globe, including in Europe, said  Mariam Zachariah, climate scientist at Imperial College London, reported Politico.
Last updated: July 20, 2022 | 12:32
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