The ongoing unprecedented heat wave in the United Kingdom (U.K.) pushed temperatures to a new record high on Tuesday as the country’s weather service reported a provisional reading of 104.36°F (40.2°C) at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Such hot temperatures, which are commonly found in tropical and desert climates, have never been experienced in the U.K. before, and studies indicate that climate change is a key factor behind the heat.
According to studies, climate change results in hotter, longer and more frequent heat waves.
According to Axios, individuals who are exposed to heat waves of this magnitude and duration face health risks, including elderly groups, individuals with preexisting medical conditions and persons without access to cooling systems, but approximately only 3% of U.K. homes have air conditioning.
A warning of continuous rising temperatures was issued from the U.K Met Office, alerting persons that heat will worsen. Several locations have surpassed the 40-degree mark.
Simon Lee, a climate scientist, reported that 3 of the 4 hottest days in U.K. history have occurred during the last four years.
Met Office chief of science and technology Stephen Belcher, who never imagined experiencing this heat, reported that, under a high emission scenario, the U.K. could continue to experience 40°C temperatures every three years.
Similarly, Scotland also set a provisional all-time high-temperature record of 94.82°F (34.9°C) in Charterhall. The temperatures in Paris also exceeded 40°C, with a reading of 104.9°F (40.5°C) for the third time in history.
While the heat has disrupted air and rail travel in the United Kingdom, the scorching heat has also sparked wildfires in France, Portugal and Spain, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes. Fire also started in the U.K on Monday, in areas that are also populated.
Over 1100 people have died in connection to the heat wave in Span and Portugal, but the toll for France and the U.K. has not yet been calculated due to the difficulty of counting excess heat-related fatalities, which can delay the toll for many weeks.
For the first time in history, the U.K. Met Office issued a “red” extreme heat warning last Friday, indicating a national emergency due to the risk of “serious illness or danger to life”.
Learn more from the report below.