Heat wave breaks records in France, kills baby birds in Spain
Updated: Jun 26
By: Joel Luo
London, the capital of England, is a city that wasn’t built with the intent to survive in extreme heat. Buildings are only partially air-conditioned, and the people who decide to live there have to “just grin and bear it.” To add to this discomfort, a severe heat wave from Africa has temperatures rapidly getting higher. On Friday, several weather stations in France recorded the hottest temperatures in June on record, and two locations saw their hottest day ever on record, both places reached being above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. One of the highest recorded temperatures caused by the heat wave was in southern Spain, hitting 111.5 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday. Although the heat wave was expected to subside in Britain, and maybe Spain, France, Germany, Poland, and Austria are all expected to have abnormally high temperatures that weekend. The heat is expected to move to southern Europe next week. Alex Burkill, a meteorologist, said, “This is the type of thing that climate scientists were warning about, and unfortunately, it does look like this is going to become more common.” In Spain, dozens of heat warnings were issued, and almost the entire country was under “extreme risk” of a wildfire. Thousands of people were evacuated while firefighters tried to contain the fire already moving their way. Still in southern Spain, hundreds of baby birds died after having to leave their burning nests too early. Spain’s scientists said the birds tended to build “enclosed nests in the cavities of buildings, which are often made of concrete or metal. It becomes an oven and the chicks, who can’t fly yet, rush out because they can’t stand the temperature inside.” Moreno Portillo said, “They’re literally being cooked.” The severe heat and lack of rain has reduced some of Europe’s largest rivers to low levels. The continent’s largest river, Italy’s Po, is so low shipwrecks are resurfacing. Even authorities in northern Italy are getting more concerned about possible water shortages. In 2003, a heat wave killing 15,000 people in France made nursing homes develop emergency plans for days like this. They added air-conditioned rooms, additional ventilation, and sprinklers to cool down building facades. In Paris, city authorities allowed residents and tourists to use a website dedicated to find over 900 “islands of coolness” which included city parks, swimming pools, cemeteries, and museums. The website also provides “cooling routes” such as streets with many trees. Some other cities rely on misting devices to keep their residents and tourists cool. However, climate scientists say there need to be more drastic changes now that these sudden bursts of heat are becoming more frequent. Hannah Cloke, a climate scientist, said Britain wasn’t prepared for extreme heat, since they didn’t have many buildings that helped people keep cool. Now that these heat waves have become more frequent, we need to be prepared for when this might happen to us.