Is this the new face of summer?  It can get annoying in some places

Is this the new face of summer? It can get annoying in some places

Greece has been hit by several wildfires this week, including those on the island of Rhodes. There, firefighters have been fighting the fires for six days, and thousands of residents and tourists have been evacuated. According to experts, forest fires are associated with heat and, accordingly, with climate change.

The Mediterranean region has higher temperatures in all seasons, accompanied by less rain. It’s also called a climate change hotspot, says Karen van der Wiel, a climate scientist at KNMI. According to her, this combination leads to dehydration. “When the soil dries out, the plants also dry out, and the land becomes vulnerable to wildfires.”

Sometimes it was 40 degrees.

“It’s surprising that so many heat records were achieved in one week,” says Berend van Straaten, a Weeronline meteorologist. It refers, among other things, to the heat in the countries of southern Europe, China and the United States. June was also the hottest month globally, with the hottest day being the 6th of July. “It used to be 40 degrees in southern Europe, and there were also forest fires at that time, but now we are seeing more and more severe weather.” According to van der Wiel, these higher temperatures are related to climate change. As a result, the risk of disasters, such as wildfires, is also increasing.”

So Van Straaten, a meteorologist, is worried. “Prediction is difficult, but I don’t rule out that it can become very annoying in some places. The further south you are in Europe, the closer you are to the Mediterranean Sea, the greater the chance of wildfires, for example.” He adds that the current temperatures are exceptional, even in a hot climate. “Not that heat records will crash again next year.”

Is this the new face of summer in Europe? “I think it’s part of the current climate,” KNMI’s Van der Wiel replies. “I don’t know if it is like this every year. In the Mediterranean, there are also good and bad, dry and wet years. In dry years, the chance of forest fires is greater than in the case of a lot of rain.” But, she adds, the potential for large-scale wildfires will continue to increase.

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Large-scale evacuations to Rhodes also affected many Dutch people due to the large fires

On the Greek island of Rhodes, according to the Greek government, 19,000 people were evacuated from villages and hotels on Saturday due to intense forest fires, including dozens of Belgians. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government said it was Greece’s largest evacuation ever.

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