News Weather

Thursday 17 August 2017

Record heat brings havoc as planet is in the grip of 'another exceptionally warm year'

* Forest fires kill dozens in Portugal

* Destroy thousands of hectares in Russia

* Flights cancelled in U.S. Southwest as too hot for aircraft

A woman drinks water from a plastic bottle on June 20, 2017 in Quimper, western France, as 51 departments have been placed on heatwave alert. / AFP PHOTO / Fred TANNEAUFRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images
A woman drinks water from a plastic bottle on June 20, 2017 in Quimper, western France, as 51 departments have been placed on heatwave alert. / AFP PHOTO / Fred TANNEAUFRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images
People eat fish and chips while sat on the sea wall on the seafront in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, as Britain has basked in the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures expected to soar as the heatwave continues into next week. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
People cool off in the water of the Trocadero fountains, near the Eiffel tower, as unusually hight temperatures hit France, June 19, 2017. Picture taken June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
People refresh themselves in the water of a fountain at Andre Citroen garden in Paris, on June 19, 2017, as the French capital is placed on heatwave alert as temperatures are set to soar in the coming days. / AFP PHOTO / LUDOVIC MARINLUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images
Children and adults cool off at the Grand Park splash pad in downtown Los Angeles, California on June 19, 2017, amid a Southern California heatwave with highs again forecast to hit triple-digits in some Los Anegels County communities. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Holidaymakers sun themselves on Blackpool Promenade on June 19, 2017 in Blackpool, England. The UK has officially been put on heatwave alert as the Government issued a level three amber heat warning as temperatures are set to increase. In some parts of the Uk temperatures are expected to peak at 34C. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A woman refreshes herself in the water of a fountain at Andre Citroen garden in Paris, on June 19, 2017, as the French capital is placed on heatwave alert as temperatures are set to soar in the coming days. / AFP PHOTO / LUDOVIC MARINLUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images

Henning Gloystein

Extreme heat across large tracts of the Northern Hemisphere raised fears for crops in China, fuelled forest fires in Portugal and Russia's Far East, forced flight cancellations in the Southwest U.S., melted tarmac on roads in Britain and saw temperatures soar in Ireland.

As Wednesday marked the summer solstice - the longest day of the year - forecasters said temperatures in Paris were expected to hit 37 Celsius, Madrid could see 38C, London was set for 34C with warnings of thunderstorms and Ireland continues its warm spell with a high of 28 degrees expected in Dublin today.

Rounding up the record temperatures set in the past two months, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the Earth was experiencing "another exceptionally warm year" and the heatwaves were unusually early.

"Parts of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the United States of America have seen extremely high May and June temperatures, with a number of records broken," the WMO said late on Tuesday.

The trend seen during the past two months has put average monthly global temperatures among the highest ever recorded since data began to be collated in 1880.

Even before this month, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data showed Europe, the United States and Northeast Asia - including eastern China, Japan and South Korea - had experienced unusually warm weather between March and May.

A woman refreshes herself in the water of a fountain at Andre Citroen garden in Paris, on June 19, 2017, as the French capital is placed on heatwave alert as temperatures are set to soar in the coming days. / AFP PHOTO / LUDOVIC MARINLUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images
A woman refreshes herself in the water of a fountain at Andre Citroen garden in Paris, on June 19, 2017, as the French capital is placed on heatwave alert as temperatures are set to soar in the coming days. / AFP PHOTO / LUDOVIC MARINLUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images

In China, the world’s top grain producer, hot and dry conditions in the main corn belt have delayed plantings and stunted crop development, especially in the province of Liaoning where soil moisture levels are at their lowest in at least five years.

Thomson Reuters Eikon data shows that precipitation in Liaoning for the past month has been between 40 and 60 percent below the seasonal norm.

"The drought that hit parts of China’s northeast is the worst for this time of the year in the past decade, in the breadth of areas it has affected and the length of time it has lasted," Ma Wenfeng, analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultancy, said.

The hot, dry weather is a major factor behind forest fires that have killed dozens of people in Portugal, while the Russian news agency Tass reported scores of forest fires, mostly in Siberia and the far east region of Irkutsk.

Holidaymakers sun themselves on Blackpool Promenade on June 19, 2017 in Blackpool, England. The UK has officially been put on heatwave alert as the Government issued a level three amber heat warning as temperatures are set to increase. In some parts of the Uk temperatures are expected to peak at 34C. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Holidaymakers sun themselves on Blackpool Promenade on June 19, 2017 in Blackpool, England. The UK has officially been put on heatwave alert as the Government issued a level three amber heat warning as temperatures are set to increase. In some parts of the Uk temperatures are expected to peak at 34C. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

In the U.S. Southwest, flights were cancelled mostly by regional airlines whose aircraft operate at a lower maximum temperature.

And in Britain, regional media in the southeast county of Surrey reported that the intense sun had melted tarmac roads.

In Ireland, Met Éireann has issued a yellow weather warning for Dublin, Carlow, Kildare, Wicklow and Meath. The warning is in place from midday until 6pm today.

Solar power generation was expected to surge in Germany on Wednesday, with Eikon data showing a potential of 27,500 megawatt-hour (MWh) could be generated, compared to a seasonal norm of just 20 MWh.

The Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine recorded temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were 0.44C (32.8F) above the norm on Tuesday, compared with a global average of 0.25C above usual.

A study published earlier this week found that nearly one in three of the world's people were already exposed to potentially deadly heatwaves and predicted that number would rise to nearly half by the end of the century unless governments take steps to aggressively reduce climate-changing emissions.

Children and adults cool off at the Grand Park splash pad in downtown Los Angeles, California on June 19, 2017, amid a Southern California heatwave with highs again forecast to hit triple-digits in some Los Anegels County communities. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Children and adults cool off at the Grand Park splash pad in downtown Los Angeles, California on June 19, 2017, amid a Southern California heatwave with highs again forecast to hit triple-digits in some Los Anegels County communities. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

"People are talking about the future when it comes to climate change, but what we found from this paper is that this is already happening … and this is obviously going to get a lot worse," said Camilo Mora, geography professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and lead author of the study published in the Nature Climate Change journal.

(Additional reporting by Gavin Maguire in SINGAOPORE, Colin Packham in SYDNEY, Hallie Gu in BEIJING; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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