Extraordinary heat in Spain continues

by Lorraine Williamson
extraordinary heat
del canto chambers 2

MADRID – The extraordinary heat continues in Spain. In 49 of the 51 Spanish provinces, the maximums registered since September exceed the historical average. The year 2022 is therefore well on its way to becoming the hottest year on record. 

The heat this autumn in Spain has broken all records. With thermometers above 30º well into October, these are “temperatures that are more typical for early September”, says Ruben del Campo, spokesman for the Spanish weather institute Aemet. 

So far in October, maximum temperatures in much of Spain have been 5° or even 10° higher on some days than the 1980-2010 average. The temperature deviation is still very large. In 49 of Spain’s 51 provinces, the average of the maximum recorded by the Aemet since September is higher than the historical average. 31 provinces exceeded that threshold by 3°. And in 8 there is a difference of more than 8° between the reality of what is being measured and the historical average. 

Related post: After a hot summer, Spain expects a warm autumn 

Tropical nights in October 

In the early hours of October 18, many provinces even recorded tropical nights. The thermometer will not drop below 20°. This was the case in Cádiz, south of Seville, Almería, almost the entire Spanish east coast, the Balearic Islands. But also in Cáceres and Badajoz and the coastal strip of the Basque Country and Cantabria. These are clearly not isolated points in the country where it is extremely hot, but large parts of Spain. 

People are still walking around in shorts and t-shirts and even lots of beaches are still full of bathers. Therefore, these figures illustrate the concrete side of global warming in 2022. 

The summer was one of the continuous heatwaves. This was followed by a warm September and now we are heading for a close of this year as the warmest since the systematic measurements were carried out (1961). 

The overall average temperature in nine months (January to September) has exceeded 16.2ºC. Similar levels have only been reached in very recent years (2017 and 2020). 

Almost summer temperatures since the beginning of May 

The tropical nights of mid-autumn and the heat of October have set another rung on that ladder of continuous ascent. “Except for a few short cool periods, we have registered almost summer temperatures since the beginning of May,” emphasises Aemet’s Del Campo. 

Cumbre Villas

Climate change 

High temperatures, outside the expected range, are strongly linked to climate change. Nikos Christidis, a scientist attributing climatic phenomena, has confirmed that “climate change has already affected the likelihood of days of extreme heat”. His study referred to the United Kingdom, but the data for Spain follow the same path. 

Related post: Spain faces a “fundamental challenge” around the climate crisis 

Aemet underlines that “the evaluation of the annual temperature in Spain since 1971 shows a clear trend towards higher temperatures, both in the average values ​​and in maximum and minimum temperatures”. It’s a “consistent” rule, Del Campo added, where the reality shows “the warmest years have been recorded mainly in the 21st century.” 

Why? 

NASA explains it this way: “The atmosphere now contains more greenhouse gas molecules, so more energy that is reflected off the Earth’s surface and eventually held [by the atmosphere]. As part of that extra energy in the atmosphere, superheated radiation radiates to the surface of the Earth.” planet and the temperatures on that surface are rising.” 

Heat leads to drought 

From there, the problems pile up. This month, the World Weather Attribution organisation, a union of scientists investigating the relationship between the climate crisis and specific atmospheric phenomena, concluded that “high temperatures, exacerbated by climate change, have made droughts in the Northern Hemisphere by 2022 more likely”. 

“The strong temperature rise is the main cause of drought”. In Spain, about 35% of the territory of the Iberian Peninsula is currently suffering from prolonged drought due to a lack of rain, according to the Ministry of Ecological Transition. 

Also read: Drought threatens milk and olive oil production in Spain

Extreme fire hazard 

Together with the intensive and continuous demand for water, this has resulted in 60% of the country living in some degree of scarcity. Water resources have reached the minimum of the century. On the other hand, the intrusion of warm air from the south greatly increases the threat of wildfires. For these days, still in the fall, the wildfire risk map shows large areas in red. These are Castilla-La Mancha, Aragon, Castilla y León, La Rioja, Navarra, Basque Country, Cantabria and Asturias. This warns of an extreme fire hazard. 

Also read: Forest fires in Spain devastate three times as many hectares as last year

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