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.

 
 
 
 

There isn’t a war on the motorist. We should start one

These bloody people. Image: Getty.

When should you use the horn on a car? It’s not, and anyone who has been on a road in the UK in living memory will be surprised to hear this, when you are inconvenienced by traffic flow. Nor is it when you are annoyed that you have been very slightly inconvenienced by another driver refusing to break the law in a manner that is objectively dangerous, but which you perceive to be to your advantage.

According to the Highway Code:

“A horn should only be used when warning someone of any danger due to another vehicle or any other kind of danger.”

Let’s be frank: neither you nor I nor anyone we have ever met has ever heard a horn used in such a manner. Even those of us who live in or near places where horns perpetually ring out due to the entitled sociopathy of most drivers. Especially those of us who live in or near such places.

Several roads I frequently find myself pushing a pram up and down in north London are two way traffic, but allow parking on both sides. This being London that means that, in practice, they’re single track road which cars can enter from both ends.

And this being London that means, in practice, that on multiple occasions every day, men – it is literally always men – glower at each other from behind the steering wheels of needlessly big cars, banging their horns in fury that circumstances have, usually through the fault of neither of them, meant they are facing each other on a de facto single track road and now one of them is going to have to reverse for a metre or so.

This, of course, is an unacceptable surrender as far as the drivers’ ego is concerned, and a stalemate seemingly as protracted as the cold war and certainly nosier usually emerges. Occasionally someone will climb out of their beloved vehicle and shout and their opponent in person, which at least has the advantages of being quieter.

I mentioned all this to a friend recently, who suggested that maybe use of car horns should be formally restricted in certain circumstances.

Ha ha ha. Hah.

The Highway Code goes on to say -

“It is illegal to use a horn on a moving vehicle on a restricted road, a road that has street lights and a 30 mph limit, between the times of 11:30 p.m. and 07:00 a.m.”

Is there any UK legal provision more absolutely and comprehensively ignored by those to whom it applies? It might as well not be there. And you can bet that every single person who flouts it considers themselves law abiding. Rather than the perpetual criminal that they in point of fact are.


In the 25 years since I learned to drive I have used a car horn exactly no times, despite having lived in London for more than 20 of them. This is because I have never had occasion to use it appropriately. Neither has anyone else, of course, they’ve just used it inappropriately. Repeatedly.

So here’s my proposal for massively improving all UK  suburban and urban environments at a stroke: ban horns in all new cars and introduce massive, punitive, crippling, life-destroying fines for people caught using them on their old one.

There has never been a war on motorists, despite the persecution fantasies of the kind of middle aged man who thinks owning a book by Jeremy Clarkson is a substitute for a personality. There should be. Let’s start one. Now.

Phase 2 will be mandatory life sentences for people who don’t understand that a green traffic light doesn’t automatically mean you have right of way just because you’re in a car.

Do write in with your suggestions for Phase 3.