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climate change

It's So Damn Hot Around the World Right Now

A global heat wave is hitting Alaska, Europe, and Asia.

by Alex Lubben
09 July 2019, 4:41am

Anchorage, Alaska, was hotter than New York City on the Fourth of July. Cities across Europe smashed heat records last month. Temperatures topped 120 degrees Fahrenheit in India in June.

And the heat’s expected to keep coming.

As hot air from Africa gets pushed up north, meteorologists are expecting heat waves every couple of weeks through the end of the summer. These types of hot streaks will only become more common as the world heats up, and a study from the Weather Attribution Network has already found that the heat wave that just scorched Europe was five times more likely because of global warming.

Meanwhile, wildfires raging in the Arctic are emitting tons of carbon dioxide, which will contribute to more global heating.

Here’s a quick rundown of just how hot it’s been around the globe this summer already.

Alaska is hotter than NYC

For 34 consecutive days, cities in Alaska hit above-average temperatures and topped off at a record-breaking 90 degrees Fahrenheit on July 4 in Anchorage. That busted through the city’s previous all-time-high temperature of 85 degrees from 1969.

What meteorologists are calling a “heat dome” has been sitting on top of Alaska since the beginning of the month. It’s an unusually intense area of high pressure that’s kept the heat stuck over the state.

The record temps even put a damper on the state’s Fourth of July plans and forced officials to ban fireworks to prevent more wildfires.

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In this photo taken Tuesday, July 2, 2019, and provided by the Alaska Division of Forestry, smoke rises from a wildfire in east Anchorage, Alaska. (Jason Jordet/Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)

Wildfires are a natural part of the state’s Arctic ecosystem, but the record-high temperatures from May, coupled with the current heat wave, has allowed them to proliferate. So far in 2019, the fires have burned through some 650,000 acres.

And Alaska isn't the only place where fires are ripping through. They’re also burning throughout the Arctic Circle, particularly in Siberia. The flames release climate-heating carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

“The amount of CO2 emitted from Arctic Circle fires in June 2019 is larger than all of the CO2 released from Arctic Circle fires in the same month from 2010 through to 2018 put together,” Thomas Smith, a geography professor at the London School of Economics, told Motherboard.

Europe's deadly heat wave

Hot air, percolating up from the Sahara Desert, scorched Europe in June and early July. Average temperatures across the continent were over 3 degrees Fahrenheit above normal temperatures and more than a degree higher than the trends over the last decade, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

The heat baked France, which shattered its temperature record: In Gallargues-le-Montueux, in southern France, temps hit 114 degrees Fahrenheit on June 28, beating the 2003 record of 111 degrees during a heat wave that left 15,000 dead.

“Although this was exceptional, we are likely to see more of these events in the future due to climate change,” Jean-Noël Thépaut of Copernicus Climate Change Service said in a statement.

At the height of the heat wave on June 28, the organizers of the Women’s World Cup in soccer forced the players to take water breaks during the quarterfinal round between the U.S. and France.

In a country without the ubiquitous air-conditioning infrastructure that the U.S. is accustomed to, the heat can feel inescapable. People took dips in the pool of water at the base of the Eiffel Tower; migrants at shelters on the outskirts of Paris lined up to shower six at a time in makeshift facilities. In Brandenburg, Germany, one motorist, after getting pulled over by the cops for riding his scooter around naked told the cops, “It’s too hot!” They didn’t argue with him on that point, and praised him for at least wearing a helmet.

120 degrees in India

Temperatures hit 120 degrees Fahrenheit in early June in Churu in Northern India. They’ve abated since, but water reservoirs are still drying up.

In 90-plus-degree heat — a respite from the ultra-hot temperatures in New Delhi last month — water shortages have left millions desperate and thirst. There’s been a spike in heat-related deaths, local hospitals told NPR.

In one of the city’s slums, with some 500 cinder-block homes, there’s only one communal water tap. It went dry two summers ago. In New Delhi, kids lined up with cans as trucks carrying water showed up to their slums, yelling “Tanker! Tanker!” NPR reported.

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Residents of a housing society cool off with a "rain dance" organized to beat the heat on a hot summer day in Greater Noida, outskirts of New Delhi, India, Saturday, June 15, 2019. Many parts of India are experiencing extreme heat conditions. (AP Photo/R S Iyer)

Then, the rains broke Tuesday, and they, too, were deadly. Fifteen inches of rain — the heaviest in 15 years, according to Reuters — dropped on parts of India, including Mumbai, which left at least 30 people dead.

Climate scientists have shown that floods like these are likely to intensify as the world gets hotter. “A great deal of research has shown that the heaviest rainfall episodes are intensifying in many parts of the world,” Bob Henson, a meteorologist at the Weather Company, told Gizmodo.

It’s scorching in Beijing

In the Chinese capital, temperatures hit at least 102 degrees Fahrenheit in early June, according to the Beijing News. That’s the hottest day the city’s seen in the last 50 years.

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A temperature indicator is seen as a giant panda lies on wood at Beijing Zoo on May 23, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Fan Jiashan/VCG via Getty Images)

That heat has kept up in July, with the China Meteorological Administration forecasting highs of 104 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of northern China. They expect the heat wave to last at least 10 days.

During the heat in June, some Chinese cities asked industrial facilities to limit their production so that the Chinese could use the power to power their air-conditioners, according to Reuters. For those who found themselves outside during the heat, they made due with colorful umbrella hats and fans to try to keep from overheating.

Cover: People bathe in the Trocadero Fountain in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris during a heatwave on June 28, 2019. (Photo: ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI/AFP/Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on VICE US.