Heatwave sweeps across S. Europe, raising concerns on health

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Heatwave sweeps across S. Europe, raising concerns on health

With much of Southern Europe engulfed by a heatwave, concerns have been raised over public health and the risk of wildfires. Temperatures have hit 40 degrees Celsius and above in several regions, and more heatwaves are expected in the near future across the continent, reported Xinhua.

EARLY HEAT

Greece is currently experiencing its earliest heatwave on record and has issued urgent warnings to travelers after several tourists died amid record-high temperatures in June. Schools and tourist sites, including the Acropolis, were temporarily closed. Greek Minister of Health Adonis Georgiadis has urged holidaymakers to be "very careful" and avoid taking "unnecessary risks."

Meanwhile, Italy saw temperatures as high as 42 degrees in mid-June, with multiple heatwave alerts throughout the month.

In April, a joint study by the United Nations (UN) World Meteorological Organization and the European Environment Agency concluded that temperatures in Europe are now 2.3 degrees warmer than pre-industrial levels.

Spain has also seen soaring temperatures, with some regions exceeding 40 degrees. The country is now bracing itself for another hot summer after two consecutive years of record temperatures.

Even in the eastern European country of Lithuania, temperatures in many regions passed 30 degrees in June. Justinas Kilpys, a lecturer at Vilnius University's Department of Hydrology and Climatology, said this was not an annual occurrence before the 2000s.

However, without reducing atmospheric pollution, such heatwaves will become more frequent, Kilpys warned.

The temperature of Croatia's capital Zagreb reached 37 degrees on June 30, and the country's second-largest city, Split, hit 40 degrees in June. Slovenia also faced its first heatwave at the end of June, with temperatures in most parts of the country rising above 30 degrees, which is unusual for this time of year.

HEALTH, WILDFIRE CONCERNS

The heatwaves have raised significant public health concerns, especially in some eastern European countries, which have rarely seen such scorching weather so early in a year.

In Latvia, high temperatures in June have led to a surge in hospitalizations, particularly affecting elderly patients, and those with heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes.

The Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Center has issued warnings about worsening weather conditions and fire risks in southeastern districts.

Italy has had a National Heat Plan in place since 2004, coordinated by the Health Ministry, which includes guidelines, daily bulletins, and measures to mitigate health risks associated with high temperatures. This year's plan was activated on May 20 and will remain in place until Sept. 15.

Spain's Ministry of Health has also released a new map to provide more accurate heat alerts, which will run until Sept. 30 and could likely be extended into October if heat persists.

Concerns about wildfires, drought, and disruptions to power and water supplies, which could lead to significant economic losses and environmental damage, are prevalent across Europe.

"The Mediterranean is a hot spot of the climate crisis," Lagouvardos Kostas, research director at the National Observatory of Athens, said. Last year, Greece, one of the European countries most affected by the climate crisis, suffered the largest-ever wildfire in Europe. Wildfires recently erupted in the country again, amid hot and dry conditions with high winds.

Meanwhile in Croatia, the heatwave has caused power and water supply interruptions. Croatian meteorologist Zoran Vakula has predicted high temperatures, potentially over 40 degrees, in July and August. Recent extreme weather events in Croatia have led to disasters such as heavy rains, floods, hail, and droughts, causing extensive property damage, he underlined.

Slovenian climatologist Lucka Kajfez Bogataj emphasized that in addition to natural forces, human damage to the environment and urban planning errors contribute to these losses. She stressed that climate change requires a collective global response, underscoring the importance of international cooperation.

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

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