Italy has baked in sweltering temperatures that continued to drive deadly wildfires, with Spain and Portugal bracing for the arrival of a dangerous heat wave that has grilled southeastern Europe and is starting to push west toward the Iberian Peninsula.
A heat wave fed by hot air from North Africa has engulfed large parts of the Mediterranean region in recent days, contributing to massive wildfires and killing dozens of people in Italy, Turkey and Algeria. In Greece, huge wildfires have ravaged forests for a week, destroying homes and forcing evacuations.
Sicily recorded Wednesday what may be a new European temperature record, though weather experts cautioned that the measurement still must be confirmed.
The Sicily region’s agriculture-meteorological information service, SIAS, reported that a temperature of 48.8 degrees Celsius (119.84 degrees Fahrenheit) was reached at the island’s Syracuse station. The agency said it is the highest temperature registered in the entire network since its installation in 2002.
Such peaks of temperature are not unheard of in Spain and Portugal during the summer months. Even so, climate scientists say there is little doubt climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is driving extreme events, such as heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods and storms.
Researchers can directly link a single event to climate change only through intensive data analysis, but they say such calamities are expected to happen more frequently on our warming planet.