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Europe roasted under one of its worst heat waves in decades on Monday, as scientists and governments prepared to sign off on a major new warning about the severity of climate change.Â
Temperatures in Greece were forecast to approach Europeâ€™s all-time record of 48 degrees and wildfires raged in Turkey, Greece, Italy and Finland.Â Â
While parts of Europe burned, negotiations between governments and scientists over the final wording of a major compilation of the last seven years of climate science were taking place online.Â
The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth Assessment Report, to be released on August 9, is expected to draw clearer conclusions than ever before about the links between climate change and extreme weather, such as heat waves.
The IPCC produces major summaries of the state of climate science roughly every six or seven years. The first section of the sixth edition comes amid a barrage of extreme weather events across Europe, Africa, Asia and North America, which have been linked to climate change.Â
Ed Hawkins, a climatologist and lead author of the report, said recent events would â€œhopefully provide some context for the world that we are moving towards.â€
On Friday, the panel signed off on a section that draws on the emerging field of attribution science, which allows scientists to identify the human fingerprint in heat waves, floods and other extreme events. It represents a profound shift in the level of certainty and detail for single destructive events.
â€œEvery heat wave that is happening today is made more likely and more intense by climate change,â€ said Friederike Otto, associate director of the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, and the lead author on the IPCC report who has pioneered research in the attribution field.
The soaring temperatures are being felt across Southern Europe.
Turkey has been hit by both fires and floods. Last month, it set a new temperature record of 49.1 degrees.
Last week, more than 100 forest fires burned along the southern coast, killing at least eight people. Thousands had to be evacuated by boat as the flames enveloped beach resorts and villages; at least 3,000 farm animals perished.Â As of Monday, the fires were largely under control, said Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli, although the mayor of Bodrum later that day begged for help in front of rising smoke.
The government of President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan has come under fierce criticism for its response to the fires, with angry locals accosting Foreign Minister MevlÃ¼t Ã‡avuÅŸoÄŸlu as he visited his constituency of Antalya, a tourism hotspot badly affected by the flames, asking why the state wasnâ€™t sending firefighting planes.Â
On Friday, ErdoÄŸan acknowledged the country did not have a single firefighting plane at its disposal and had borrowed water bombers from other countries.Â The EU said Sunday it would send three planes to Turkey.Â
Greece has also been hit by severe heat, with meteorologists warning of near-record temperatures.Â
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Monday that the country was facing its â€œworst heat wave since 1987,â€ when more than 1,000 people died in Athens. He asked Greeks to reduce electricity use, and authorities told locals to avoid unnecessary work and travel.Â
The heat is particularly extreme in whatâ€™s known as â€œdeath valleyâ€ in central Greece, where the temperature was above 44 degrees on Monday.Â A local in Larissa â€” a city in the region â€” was filmed frying eggs just by cracking them over a table outside.
The hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe is 48 degrees, in 1977 in Athens. The temperature in Larissa was forecast to approach that mark on Tuesday.
In Athensâ€™ central Syntagma square, members of the presidential guard stood drenched in sweat under their red berets.Â
Along with the heat, firefighters battled 116 outbreaks over the weekend, the ministry of civil protection said. And while temperatures are expected to peak early this week, the fire risk will remain high, experts warned.
â€œBy the end of the week, when the usual August winds resume, then the risk of fires will be even greater,â€ Christos Zerefos, a professor of atmospheric physics, told local media. â€œEverything will be dried and ready to ignite.â€
Temperatures also hit 40 degrees in parts of Italy over the weekend and hundreds had to be evacuated from Sicily as wildfires raged across the countryâ€™s south, just one week after devastating fires hit the island of Sardinia. The countryâ€™s north, meanwhile, suffered flooding and landslides last week.Â
Fires razed trees even in Europeâ€™s far north last week, as Finland, which registered record temperatures in early July, saw its worst forest fire in half a century.Â
Forecasters said the scorching temperatures in Southern Europe were being driven by a â€œheat dome,â€ where heat gets trapped over a region for days or even weeks. A similar pattern was behind recent extreme heat in western North America.Â
Recent scientific advances and leaked drafts of the IPCC report indicate scientists will deliver a stark message next week about the role of climate change in worsening heat waves, floods and other disasters.Â
â€œThat side of the science has moved on a lot. And that will be reflected I’m sure in the IPCC report,â€ said Hawkins.Â
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