Never happened before: Historic 30-degree temperatures in January

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January temperatures

Spain has recently witnessed unprecedented temperatures for this time of year. Near Valencia, in the town of Gavarda, temperatures soared to a remarkable 30.7°C. This figure, recorded at a local weather station, is pending official validation.

It is the first instance of tropical warmth in Europe during the month of January. This event surpasses the previous record in Spain set on January 29, 2021, when temperatures reached 29.8°C in Alicante. The current temperatures are significantly higher, being 10 to 15 degrees above the usual average for January.

Experts attribute this unusual warmth partly to a high-pressure area over Spain, which has brought warm air from North Africa. This follows another record-setting event in December when temperatures in Málaga hit 29.9°C .

Climate change 

Spain, located in the climate-sensitive Mediterranean region, is experiencing these extremes as part of a broader pattern of climate change. The Mediterranean is identified as a ‘hotspot’ for climate change, experiencing increasingly hotter and longer heat periods.

The latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underlines that the Mediterranean is warming faster than the global average. The report warns that if greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed, the region could see temperatures exceeding 50°C.

Spain has already experienced temperatures above 45°C in recent years. The escalating heat and drought risk transforming significant parts of the country into desert-like conditions.

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The economic toll 

The Spanish economy, particularly agriculture, is feeling the brunt of these climatic shifts. Last year, for example, saw a notable decline in olive harvests due to reduced yields, leading to a doubling in olive oil prices.

Research from Spain’s CaixaBank reveals a correlation between higher temperatures and consumer spending. As temperatures exceed 23°C, a decrease in consumer expenditure is observed. This trend is more pronounced in the warm south of Spain, where spending drops by about 10% compared to the cooler north.

The changing climate is also expected to shift vacation patterns, with cooler destinations becoming more desirable. The economic impact extends to irrigation, a vital component of Spanish agriculture. Drought and temperature increases have severely affected crops like oranges and mangoes, with mango harvests dropping by 60% to 70% last year due to drought conditions.

Over 120 records this January

The wave of anomalous heat this January is resulting in numerous new temperature records across the country. Since Tuesday, January 23, Spain has registered a total of 68 new heat records. These records include both high monthly maximums and high monthly minimums, with the former being particularly notable.

Among the notable records were those set in higher-altitude areas on January 25, such as the Navacerrada station, which reached a maximum of 18.3ºC, surpassing its previous record of 16.3ºC set on January 6, 2013. Several provincial capitals also equaled or exceeded their monthly maximums, including Cuenca with 23.2ºC, Teruel with 22.9ºC, Soria with 20.8ºC, and Ávila also with 20.8ºC.

28,4ºC in Valencia

The highest maximum temperature recorded in the official network on Wednesday, January 24, was 28.4ºC in Carcaixent (Valencia). Outside the official network, temperatures reached 28.9ºC in Calles, Valencia. On Thursday, January 25, some stations outside the official network surpassed 30ºC in the Valencian Community.

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