How global warming influences heat waves

How does global warming affect heat waves?

Heat waves are extreme weather phenomena that affect various regions of the world on a regular basis. These extremely hot weather conditions can have a significant impact on people and the environment. Recent studies are investigating How global warming influences heat waves.

In this article we are going to tell you how global warming influences heat waves, how to protect yourself from them and what is going to be done to avoid this situation.

What are heat waves and how they affect

global warming and heat waves

A heat wave occurs when a region experiences unusually high temperatures for a prolonged period. Although the exact process can vary depending on location and regional weather conditions, there are generally three main factors that contribute to the formation of a heat wave:

  • High atmospheric pressure: A zone of high pressure establishes itself in the region, creating a stagnant system that prevents clouds and precipitation from moving. This allows the sun to heat the earth's surface without interruption, causing temperatures to rise.
  • Atmospheric lock: Sometimes particular weather patterns can block the normal movement of air masses. This results in stagnant weather conditions, which intensifies the heat and prolongs the duration of the heat wave.
  • Human influence: Although heat waves have occurred naturally throughout history, human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases, have contributed to the increased frequency and intensity of these extreme events.

Once we are in the middle of a heat wave, these are the following consequences that we can find:

  • Damage to human health: High temperatures during a heat wave can have serious consequences for people's health. Prolonged exposure to excessive heat can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and in extreme cases, heat stroke, which is life-threatening. The most vulnerable groups, such as young children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing medical conditions, are most at risk.
  • Impact on the environment: Heat waves can also cause significant damage to the natural environment. Bodies of water evaporate more quickly, which can lead to drought and scarcity of water resources. In addition, high temperatures can damage ecosystems, affect wildlife and increase the risk of forest fires.

How global warming influences heat waves

Mexico and heat waves

Average temperatures in Spain have risen 1,5 degrees since pre-industrial times. These figures show that our country is one of the most vulnerable to climate change, as experts in the field have pointed out for years. For this reason, AEMET warns that these extreme temperature events will become more frequent and, in particular, foresees that summer heat waves, droughts and storms will become a trend. They also point out that if the highest temperature recorded in recent years reaches 47°C, it would not be surprising if the next warmest temperature peak is around 50°C.

June marks the arrival of summer, but it also marks the start of the warmest quarter of the year. Spain, which has experienced rising temperatures since 1975, has experienced 10 heat waves in June, six of which have occurred in the past 11 years. That means we've had more heat waves in the last 10 years than in the last 25.

He assures that until 1999 Spain barely reached 40°C at some point, and since then we have reached that temperature four times in May. Furthermore, 2021 is one of the seven hottest years of the 13st century, with a total of XNUMX days of extremely high temperature, which contrasts with the record number of cold days in winter: none.

Heat waves are one of the most visible effects of climate change and global warming on the planet. These phenomena refer to prolonged events of extremely high temperatures in an area.

It should be noted that considering the heat wave itself, it is not necessary to exceed a specific temperature or last several days. It occurs when temperatures are unusually warmer than the usual average recorded for the region.

A heat wave occurs when a large amount of hot air from one continent reaches another, changing the temperature of the latter. In the case of Spain, due to its proximity to Africa, large amounts of hot air from the continent tend to settle throughout the year, which ends up seriously disturbing the thermometers in a large part of the Iberian Peninsula.

Effects of climate change on the seasons

forest fire risk

The effects of climate change are changing not only the climate, but also the length of the seasons as we know them. Since 1952, the length of summer has been increased from 78 to 95 days, while the length of spring has decreased from 124 to 115 days, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This increase in summer has serious implications for biodiversity. Rising global temperatures and longer summers have affected the migratory cycles of some animal species, reducing food availability and even altering their reproductive phases.

Measures to protect yourself from heat waves

It is essential to take precautions during a heat wave to stay safe and protect your health. Here are some measures that can help:

  • Staying hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is essential to avoid dehydration during a heat wave. Avoiding alcohol and beverages high in caffeine is also recommended, as they can contribute to dehydration.
  • Find cool places: Staying in air-conditioned spaces or using fans can help reduce exposure to extreme heat. If these options are not available, seeking shade outdoors may provide some relief.
  • Avoid outdoor activities: During periods of intense heat, it is advisable to avoid strenuous physical activities outdoors, especially during the hottest hours of the day.
  • Proper clothing: Wearing lightweight, light-colored clothing can help keep your body cool. Covering your head with hats and using sunscreen is also important to protect yourself from direct sunlight.
  • Special care for vulnerable groups: Paying special attention to young children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing health conditions is crucial during a heat wave. Making sure they are comfortable and well hydrated is critical.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the common flow of global warming in heat waves.


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