Unseasonably severe heatwave expected to overtake significant portion of world population — here’s what that could mean

For many, the cooler temperatures of autumn are a welcome relief, but “an extreme temperature anomaly” delayed sweater weather for a significant number of people globally, according to Marko Korosec of Severe Weather Europe.

What happened? 

October is autumn in Europe, but as Korosec pointed out, this year a “heat dome” — a term used for a weather phenomenon that traps warm, high-pressure air near the ground, bringing a heat wave — started setting up in southwestern Europe.

In early October, temperatures reportedly were expected to reach an unseasonably high 77 degrees Fahrenheit in south England.

London, which has an average high temperature just above 62 degrees Fahrenheit in October, reached above 78.4 degrees (25.8 degrees Celsius) on Oct. 8, marking the warmest October day in five years, per the Evening Standard.

At close to 97 degrees Fahrenheit, southwestern France set a national record on Oct. 2 for the hottest October day ever, according to The Connexion, while Spain combatted even hotter temperatures.

Why is this concerning?

At first glance, a high of 78 degrees Fahrenheit might not sound too bad for lovers of sunshine and summer, but the unseasonably warm temperatures are part of a larger global trend.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the temperature of our planet has risen by, on average, 0.14 degrees Fahrenheit every 10 years since 1880, or approximately 2.0 total degrees by 2023. The rate of warming has been more than twice as fast per decade since the 1980s.

Researchers from Penn State University recently published a study that found many parts of the world, from Eastern China to sub-Saharan Africa, could be unlivable if temperatures rise just 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over pre-industrial levels.

According to the study, if the temperatures warm another 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above that, places like Florida, Chicago, and New York might be similarly affected.

What can we do to help? 

Human actions and technological advancements have directly contributed to the overheating of our planet, but that also means we can be the cure.

Simply using cost-effective LED light bulbs or turning off your car when waiting — except when in traffic or at stoplights — can significantly reduce the amount of harmful heat-trapping pollution over time.

Additionally, some companies are developing innovative technology that is not only good for the planet but can also help us moderate the temperatures of our internal environment.

In the meantime, if you do find yourself in a heat wave, you can avoid vigorous exercise and the consumption of alcoholic or caffeinated drinks to help keep safe.

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