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Europe set to bake under extreme heat for weeks

Temperatures across the globe are predicted to break records and exacerbate wildfires as the dire consequences of climate change become more apparent with each passing year.

At present, thousands find themselves trapped in the inferno that’s gripping the Mediterranean.

This is expected to last for weeks as global temperatures soar and records continue being broken.

In Greece, which is currently battling to contain wildfires that have prompted authorities to send out warnings to the public to take caution when outside as well as widespread evacuations, the most recent forecasts show peaks of 44°C on multiple days.

Meanwhile, red alerts for extreme heat were in place in 23 cities in Italy on Wednesday after Rome recorded its hottest day in history at 41.8°C.

Meteorologists have also said that Europe’s highest recorded temperature of 48.8°C, registered in Sicily two years ago, could be exceeded on the Italian island of Sardinia during August.

‘The [El Nino] jet stream is stuck in a stationary wavey pattern, with high pressure over southern Europe,’ says Cathryn Birch, professor of meteorology and climate at the University of Leeds.

‘This is not forecast to change before the end of the month, possibly until mid-August. Temperatures across southern Europe will remain very high until the jet stream pattern changes.’

This, of course, is attributable to climate change, the dire consequences of which become more apparent with each passing year.

By burning fossil fuels and destroying nature, humans have warmed the planet by 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels, which has raised average temperatures across almost all land on Earth and made heatwaves hotter and more likely.

‘As we put more and more carbon in the world’s atmosphere, the Earth’s temperature has warmed by about 1.16 degrees since the pre-industrial age,’ IPCC author Anjal Prakash told Al Jazeera.

‘The CO2 that builds up in the atmosphere traps heat, leading to what is known as the greenhouse gas effect – the Earth acts like a greenhouse where heat gets entrapped inside.’

This phenomenon, he says, is ‘disrupting’ many interconnected environmental systems and putting us at risk of severe health implications in the process.

If the planet heats by 2C, the average number of heatwave days will rise threefold in northern Europe and sixfold in southern Europe.

A scorching heatwave that used to hit once a century will strike every five years in northern Europe and every other year in southern Europe.

World leaders signed an agreement in 2015 to try to limit global heating to 1.5C by the end of the century.

Their current policies, however, are set to heat the planet by 2.7C.