MADRID – In the summer, many Spaniards seek refreshment on the coast, away from the scorching heat that plagues the interior. However, recently experienced extreme temperatures during heatwaves will become the norm in the coming years, according to experts and could reach up to 50 degrees.
Carlos del Castillo, a leading NASA climate scientist, has predicted a negative scenario for Spain if fossil fuel emissions are not drastically reduced. So far, the official temperature record in Spain stands at 47.6 degrees, measured during the intense heatwave of August 2021.
Del Castillo, chief of the ocean ecology laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, has given an interview to Cadena SER. In this, he exposed the climate crisis the planet is suffering from, which will lead to departure temperatures of up to 50 degrees. “Yes, during heatwaves it is likely that we will reach temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius. We will continue with the heater on and temperatures will continue to rise.” Spain will experience temperatures similar to what has already been observed in parts of Asia and Africa, due to global warming.
Drastic measures needed
These extreme temperatures are mainly due to greenhouse gas emissions. “We’re continuing to release more gases into the atmosphere, so there’s no reason to think that temperatures won’t continue to rise,” he explains. According to the expert, the extreme heat in Spain will continue to increase unless governments drastically reduce emissions of fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal.
More intensive snowfall during the winter months
The excessive use of these fuels will only exacerbate the situation and lead to more heatwaves. “We will experience more heatwaves, as we have seen in recent months,” says the specialist. In addition, Del Castillo emphasises that climate change will not only affect summers; winters can also become more extreme. “The amount of water vapour increases due to the increase in the evaporation rate of seawater and this can lead to more intense rainfall, but also, although it may sound paradoxical, to more intense snowfall in Spain during the winter months.”
Beaches are disappearing due to higher sea levels
The economy will also be affected by climate change, especially the tourism sector which is very important for Spain. Rising temperatures combined with rising sea levels that will flood beaches will affect the millions of tourists visiting Spain in the summer.
Carlos del Castillo was also recently one of four scientists to participate in an international press conference hosted by NASA to discuss the impact of climate change, chaired by former astronaut and current NASA chief Bill Nelson. The latest insights predict a challenging future for both Spain and the world at large.