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Heat waves (1)

A severe heat wave engulfed wide areas of Japan last month, with temperatures in the western city of Shimanto reaching 41.0°C, the country’s highest temperature ever, on August 12. The Meteorological Agency of Japan said Shimanto was the first observation point to reach 40 degrees four days in a row since it started monitoring such statistics in 1875.

Floro MerceneThe mercury exceeded 30 at more than 600 of the 927 observation points across Japan, 50 locations had temperatures above 35. The previous record of 40.9°C was recorded at Kumagaya in central Japan on August 16, 2007. The agency issued a heat alert urging the public to stay hydrated and use air conditioning. Meanwhile, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 9,815 people were taken to hospitals by ambulance for heat-related reasons during the seven days.

While in China, August 11, the temperature peaked at 42.7°C at Shengxian, its hottest temperature measured so far. At Hangzhou, the temperature reached 41.1°C on August 11 and 40.3°C on August 12 making the 12th day since July 24 that the city surpassed or tied its previous all-time record high of 40.3°C set on August 1, 2003.

Meanwhile, a new study, published on August 15 in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters, finds extreme heat waves such as those that hit the US in 2012 and Australia in 2009 –dubbed three-sigma events by researchers – are projected to cover double the amount of global land by 2020 and quadruple by 2040, and this is regardless of the amount of carbon dioxide we emit into the atmosphere. More-severe summer heat waves – classified as five-sigma events – will go from being essentially absent in the present day to covering around 3 % of the global land surface by 2040. (To be continued)