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Editorial: Feeling the heat

<p>Children enjoy the water spray at the Bannerman Park Rotary Splash Pad.</p>
Children enjoy the water spray at the Bannerman Park Rotary Splash Pad in St. John’s. — SaltWire Network file photo

Search the word “temperature” in Google News, and you’re overwhelmed by stories about the heat.

Over the last week, for example, Lisbon broke an all-time heat record, hitting 44 degrees C on Saturday. Berlin was expecting 39 degrees, its hottest temperature ever. Parts of Spain and Portugal were expected to hit the highest European temperatures ever, reaching as high as 47 degrees C on Monday.

San Diego, Calif., recorded the highest surface ocean temperature in the 102 years that records have been kept.

It’s pretty much a global phenomenon; record high temperatures have also been recorded in — here you go — Taiwan, Montreal, Algeria, Oman, Burbank, Shannon, Tbilisi and Belfast, to name a few. Britain has just ended the third-longest heatwave in its history.

In Death Valley, Calif., the monthly average temperature was 42.3 C, the highest heat for a month ever recorded on Earth, beating last year’s temperatures, which were, until now, themselves the highest ever. The highest day’s temperature? 52.8 C. Meanwhile, Fresno, Calif., had the warmest July on record, including 26 consecutive days where the temperature hit or exceeded 100 degrees F, or 37.8 C.

In Japan, temperatures were set to reach 41 degrees, just shy of the all-time heat record of 41.1 degrees, a record that was set just over two weeks ago. The Korean peninsula was also on bake, with South Korea hitting an all-time temperature high of 40.7 C, easily 10 degrees above average temperatures and part of a heat wave that’s stretched on since mid-July. North Korea, meanwhile, termed the heat wave “an unprecedented natural disaster.”

In Norway, it was more than 32 degrees C north of the Arctic Circle a week ago, with much of Northern Europe sweltering under temperatures eight to 13 degrees C above average.

Australia, Europe and the western U.S. are all suffering under drought or near-drought conditions. Australia’s drought this year is the second-worst in that country’s recorded history.

It’s pretty much a global phenomenon; record high temperatures have also been recorded in — here you go — Taiwan, Montreal, Algeria, Oman, Burbank, Shannon, Tbilisi and Belfast, to name a few. Britain has just ended the third-longest heatwave in its history.

In this region, there have also been unusual weather events: late snow in Newfoundland and berry-damaging frost in Nova Scotia, dry weather in eastern Prince Edward Island that has threatened potato crops, and for pretty much all of the region, constant higher-than usual temperatures with high humidity.

This is supposed to be a slightly cooler year, based on cooler temperatures that usually come with La Niña years. Instead, we’re edging close to the hottest year on record, 2016.

It’s worth pointing out that this is the exact weather picture — higher temperatures; slow-moving weather systems pinned in place by blocking high pressure systems; a weaker, more erratic jet stream; frequent extreme weather events including violent storms and heavy rainfall — that climate scientists have been telling us to expect. With that, of course, comes forest fires, crop reductions and even heat related deaths.

We’re just waiting, really, for scientists impolitic enough to say, “We told you so.”

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