Jul 8, 2016

Explainer: the omega-shaped jet stream responsible for Europe's heatwave

United Kingdom
by
Alexander Roberts
,
The Conversation
Keeping cool as Paris sees its hottest temperatures in six decades. Photo: Etienne Laurent / EPA
Keeping cool as Paris sees its hottest temperatures in six decades. Photo: Etienne Laurent / EPA

One of the clearest findings of climate science is that heat waves are becoming more common, more intense and longer as a result of global warming. Heat waves today are already happening in a world that is 1.5°F warmer than at the beginning of the 20th century. Warming has also influenced the way that weather patterns, including those that usher in heat waves, behave.

For those that haven’t noticed, it’s been rather warm in Europe. In fact, last Wednesday was the UK’s hottest July day since records began. The temperature at Heathrow soared to 36.7°C, approximately 15°C higher than the average maximum daily temperature for the month. In mainland Europe it has been even hotter, with much of Spain well into the 40s and Paris seeing its highest temperature since 1947