Last month was the hottest June in European history – by a very long way

Paris in the heat. Image: Getty.

June was hot. Really hot. That much we knew.

What we didn’t know was just how hot it was – not just in parts of Europe, but around the world. New analysis by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, shows that temperature records weren’t just broken for Europe – they were completely obliterated. The previous European record for June, set in 1999, was smashed to bits – not just by a fraction of a degree, but by a full 1.0℃.

It was also the hottest June the world has ever recorded, with the entire globe experiencing the warmest-ever June by 0.1℃.

As parts of Britain sweltered in a single day of heat over the weekend, France recorded its highest-ever temperature of 45.9℃. And even though the early part of June wasn’t as warm, the “Saharan bubble” that rose up and sat over south-western Europe led to parts of Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic recording average five-day temperatures that were up to 10℃ hotter than you’d expect at this time of the year.

But spare a thought for people on the Indian subcontinent. Before the monsoon brought some relief – and then widespread flooding – parts of the northern Indian state of Rajasthan had to cope with weeks of temperatures above 45℃, with maximums above 50℃ in some places.

Is this climate change? What we scientists can say with absolute confidence is that as the world heats up, potentially lethal heatwaves will become more common in many parts of the world, including Europe.

That’s not to say we can’t study the effects of climate change on individual events. But we must be careful in how we interpret the findings of such studies. A rapid “attribution study” published on Tuesday has suggested that France’s heatwave at the end of June was made five times more likely as a result of climate change.

Doing such a fast attribution study, in a timeframe during which the heat is still on for some parts of Europe, is commendable stuff. For many people, leaders and politicians included, memories of the stifling impacts are still fresh. But it’s important to highlight the many caveats and self-professed limitations that come with this type of study.


The atmospheric and climate systems that create heatwaves are fiendishly complicated. Accounting for all the drivers of June’s heatwave will take time and an immense amount of data crunching by some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. They will have to consider all the various influences: the path of the jet stream, the temperature of the oceans, the movement of wind and formation of clouds. Crucially, they will have to do the calculations both with and without the impact of human-influenced climate change.

So much for the science. As a scientist, this is what I’m expected to say. And yet, this weekend as I sat in my garden, listening to Glastonbury on the radio and watching my children trying to keep cool in the paddling pool, I was overcome for the first time with a feeling I could not shake off. Guilt, and fear. Guilt, that by being too scientific about these things, I don’t have enough passion and impetus to do everything I can about it. And fear for the future we are leaving for my children. For all our children.

So what’s to be done? It’s clear that whatever we decide to do, the extreme weather we’ve seen in recent days is going to be a part of all our futures. In Europe, we will have to change how we behave to cope with heatwaves. We will have to change how we build our homes, schools and hospitals to protect the people who are most vulnerable. And we need to provide people everywhere with more accurate and earlier warnings of oncoming hazards of every type, to give people the best chance to prepare.

That’s just to cope with the climate change we’ve already created. If we don’t like the idea of even more widespread, more common and more severe heatwaves, within our own lifetimes and those of our children, we have to change our habits – and fast.

The Conversation

Hannah Cloke, Professor of Hydrology, University of Reading.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 
 
 
 

17 things the proposed “Tulip” skyscraper that London mayor Sadiq Khan just scrapped definitely resembled

Artist's impression. See if you can guess which one The Tulip is. Image: Foster + Partners.

Sadiq Khan has scrapped plans to build a massive glass thing in the City of London, on the grounds it would knacker London’s skyline. The “Tulip” would have been a narrow, 300m skyscraper, designed by Norman Foster’s Foster & Partners, with a viewing platform at the top. Following the mayor’s intervention, it now won’t be anything of the sort.

This may be no bad thing. For one thing, a lot of very important and clever people have been noisily unconvinced by the design. Take this statement from Duncan Wilson, the chief executive of Historic England, from earlier this year: “This building, a lift shaft with a bulge on top, would damage the very thing its developers claim they will deliver – tourism and views of London’s extraordinary heritage.”

More to the point, the design was just bloody silly. Here are some other things that, if it had been built, the Tulip would definitely have looked like.

1. A matchstick.

2. A drumstick.

3. A cotton ear bud.

4. A mystical staff, of the sort that might be wielded by Gandalf the Grey.

5. A giant spring onion.

6. A can of deodorant, from one of the brands whose cans are seemingly deliberately designed in such a way so as to remind male shoppers of the fact that they have a penis.

7. A device for unblocking a drain.

8. One of those lights that’s meant to resemble a candle.

9. A swab stick, of the sort sometimes used at sexual health clinics, in close proximity to somebody’s penis.

10.  A nearly finished lollipop.

11. Something a child would make from a pipe cleaner in art class, which you then have to pretend to be impressed by and keep on show for the next six months.

12. An arcology, of the sort seen in classic video game SimCity 2000.

13. Something you would order online and then pray will arrive in unmarked packaging.

14. The part of the male anatomy that the thing you are ordering online is meant to be a more impressive replica of.

15. A building that appears on the London skyline in the Star Trek franchise, in an attempt to communicate that we are looking at the FUTURE.


14a. Sorry, the one before last was a bit vague. What I actually meant was: a penis.

16. A long thin tube with a confusing bulbous bit on the end.

17. A stamen. Which, for avoidance of doubt, is a plant’s penis.

One thing it definitely does not resemble:

A sodding tulip.

Anyway, it’s bad, and it’s good the mayor has blocked it.

That’s it, that’s the take.

(Thanks to Anoosh Chakelian, Jasper Jackson, Patrick Maguire for helping me get to 17.)

Jonn Elledge is editor of CityMetric and the assistant editor of the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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