Wennington: Wildfire victims concerned about their propertiesA new record for the hottest day was recorded on Tuesday afternoon of 40.3C in Conings
Wennington: Wildfire victims concerned about their properties
A new record for the hottest day was recorded on Tuesday afternoon of 40.3C in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, beating the previous high of 38.7C in Cambridge three years ago. Major incidents were declared by fire brigades in London, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire as dozens of fires broke out.
London Fire Brigade declared a major incident and urged people to stop having barbecues as 110 fire engines battled blazes across the capital.
To the east, a large fire torched homes in the village of Wennington, with flames tearing across neighbouring tinder-dry fields and threatening a church.
Elsewhere large areas of grass around the capital were on fire, blowing smoke over major roads and nearby areas.
A comparison of images captured by the Sentinel-2 satellite in June and in the second week of July shows the UK’s usually green landscape turned a parched brown due to the heat.
Satellite images show part of England scorched brown and a wildfire raging in France
Firefighters try to control a forest fire in Louchats, south-western France
Satellite images also reveal the devastation caused by wildfires in Europe with firefighters battling blazes in Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
In southwestern France, satellite images have captured the wine-growing Gironde region’s largest wildfire in more than 30 years with the authorities saying a man has been detained on suspicion of arson.
The fires have spread across 19,300 hectares in the countryside around Bordeaux since July 12, forcing 34,000 people from their homes.
About 2,000 firefighters, supported by eight water-bomber aircraft, have been fighting the flames.
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Satellite images show how part of England has turned brown in the heat
A fire department helicopter passes overhead as motorcyclists look at wildfires near Athens
This year could become one of Europe’s hottest, confirming a trend which has caused worry among meteorologists and climate experts.
According to data from Copernicus, Europe is warming faster than other parts of the world with average temperatures already 2.2C above pre-industrial levels.
This level of warming is already above the global limit of 1.5C which countries want to stay below in order to reduce the effects of climate change.
Copernicus said the global average temperature for June was about 0.32C higher than the 1991-2020 average which makes it the third warmest June on record.
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It added Europe as a whole saw its second warmest June on record at about 1.6C above average.
Friederike Otto, senior lecturer in climate science at Imperial College London, said: “We are seeing more frequent heatwaves and the heatwaves are hotter than they would have been without climate change.”
A study in the journal Nature this month found heatwaves in Europe have increased three to four times faster than in other northern, mid-latitudes such as the United States.
The authors linked this to changes in the jet stream – a fast west-to-east air current in the northern hemisphere.
ETH Zurich climate scientist Sonia Seneviratne said: “On average on land, heat extremes that would have happened once every 10 years without human influence on the climate are now three times more frequent.”
A firefighter tackles a forest fire around the village of Eiriz in Baiao, Portugal
Temperatures will only stop rising if humans stop pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Until then, heatwaves are expected to worsen. A failure to tackle climate change would see heat extremes escalate even more dangerously.
Countries agreed under the global 2015 Paris Agreement to cut emissions fast enough to limit global warming to 2°C and aim for 1.5°C, to avoid its most dangerous impacts.
However, current policies would not cut emissions fast enough to meet either goal.
Climate change is also increasing the hot and dry conditions which help fires spread faster, burn longer and rage more intensely.
Forest management and ignition sources are also important factors.
In Europe, more than nine out of 10 fires are ignited by human activities, like arson, disposable barbeques, electricity lines or littered glass, according to EU data.
A wildfire fuelled by gale-force winds has been raging in the mountainous region of Penteli near Athens, burning homes and prompting authorities to order the evacuation of at least nine areas and a hospital.
Thick clouds of smoke darkened the sky over Mount Penteli where the fire broke out around 2.30pm UK time on Tuesday, some 16 miles north of central Athens.
Victor Resco de Dios, professor of forest engineering at Spain’s Lleida University, said: “When we look back on the current fire season in one or two decades’ time, it will probably seem mild by comparison.”