Although the event occurred over three years ago, the summer heat wave of 2003 is still prominently featured in every popular presentation of the global warming issue.
We have covered heat waves many times in the past at World Climate Report and shown that the link between extreme heat waves and global warming (or, at least, increasing death) is not nearly as strong as we are led to believe. As seen in Figure 1 below for June, July, and August of 2003, Europe was definitely ground-zero for what is certainly an extreme event. You can also read about the Royal Meteorological Society’s Urban Heat Island experiment in Manchester here.
Scientists say that human-induced climate change made this year's record heat more likely, and project that extreme heat will become more common in the United States.
Only the European heat wave of 2003, which killed 35,000 - 50,000 people, and the incredible North American heat wave of July 1936, which set all-time extreme highest temperature records in fifteen U.S. One study has attempted to see how much the urban heat island effect has affected long temperature records, by comparing the temperatures recorded on calm nighst (big urban heat island effect) with those recorded on windy nights (less urban heat island effect) – this suggested that the long temperature records were not affected by the urban heat island effect.
The Five's only liberal co-host Bob Beckel noted that record July heat is consistent with global warming, and was promptly dismissed by co-host Greg Gutfeld, who routinely denies that manmade global warming is occurring.
The New York Times led the pack, mentioning climate change in more than half of its coverage (54.5%), and the Washington Post mentioned it in 26% of articles on July heat. This means that less energy is used up evaporating water, that less of the Sun’s energy is reflected and that more heat is stored by buildings and the ground in urban than in rural areas.
A lot of research is currently going into understanding the urban micro-climate, and into finding ways of designing cities and building to minimise the effect of a changing climate – both by reducing the urban heat island, and by finding ways to cool the insides of buildings. The Wall Street Journal didn't mention climate change at all, although the paper had significantly fewer stories on extreme heat. A comparison of the departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average just prior the the start of the great European heat waves of 2003 and 2010.
By ten days from now, the ECMWF model shows a strong trough of low pressure over Moscow, and a end to the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010. Britain faced the hottest day ever recorded in July on Wednesday as a heat wave swept much of Europe.
Two people died in Spain as temperatures climbed above 104 degrees, while officials in France said as many as nine people who died recently were believed to be victims of the heat.
But with its aging buildings and infrequent brushes with sweltering temperatures, Britain was particularly ill-equipped for the heat wave. Across Europe, health officials warned people to stay out of the sun and to drink plenty of water.
In France, several days of dry heat and high temperatures — which reached 97 degrees in Paris on Wednesday and 102 degrees in Bordeaux a day earlier — recalled a heat wave in 2003, when 15,000 people died from dehydration and heat-related disorders.

In Paris, heat-busters included four giant humidifiers placed around the Eiffel Tower, one at each foot, that sprayed passers-by with water vapor as they tried to escape the sun’s punishing rays. This week’s victims of the heat in France likely included two people in their 80s who died Tuesday in the Bordeaux region, and a 53-year-old construction worker who collapsed in the central city of Macon. In the Netherlands, the Nijmegen 4-Day March was canceled after two participants died in the heat. Sancha Lancaster, spokeswoman for Britain’s primary weather forecaster the Meteorological Office, said as the heat hangs on, temperatures could eclipse the record of 101 degrees in Faversham, Kent, on Aug.
And in a rare move, the two-hour shifts of the royal guards who stand outside Buckingham Palace were reduced to one hour at the beginning of the week in preparation for the heat, said the London headquarters spokesman, Col.
This study seeks fundamental understanding of the key atmospheric and hydrological processes which shape the European and Alpine climate (Fig.
There is no question that the heat wave of 2003 was a natural disaster in Europe with a substantial loss of human life.
METHODOLOGY: We searched Nexis and Factiva databases for articles and segments on (extreme heat or record heat or heat wave or record high!) between July 1, 2012, and July 31, 2012. Many of these deaths occurred in urban areas because of the combined effect of the heat wave with the urban micro-climate.
MSNBC was the only television network to regularly incorporate climate change into primetime segments on extreme heat. 2: Animation demonstrating the contribution of soil moisture - atmosphere interactions to the 2003 heat wave. Several studies find that this regional heat wave was quite unique and it has been suggested that such an extreme event could be accounted for only by a shift of statistical regime to one with higher variance.” Basically, others have argued that the climate has changed due to the buildup of greenhouse gases, variability has increased, and this increase in variability made the heat wave of 2003 more likely. The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 is one of the most intense, widespread, and long-lasting heat waves in world history. With rising high temperatures, extreme heat waves that are currently considered rare will occur more frequently in the future. But a Media Matters analysis of media coverage of record-breaking heat in July finds that major television outlets rarely made the connection between heat waves and a changing climate. All of these heat waves were caused by a highly unusual kink in the jet stream that remained locked in place for over a month. I expect that the current SST pattern over the ocean regions surrounding Europe played a key role in shifting the jet stream to create the heat wave of 2010. Shukla (2010), "Influence of sea surface temperature on the European heat wave of 2003 summer. An urban heat island is a metropolitan area which is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas.

The statistics show that the recent bouts of extremely warm summers, including the intense heat wave afflicting the U.S. Overall, the major print outlets mentioned climate change in just over a quarter of articles on extreme heat.
The heat generated by heating, cooling, transport and other energy uses also contributes, particularly in winter, as does the complex three dimensional structure of the urban landscape. Note that the SST anomaly pattern is quite different this year compared to 2003, which may be why this year's heat wave hit Eastern Europe, and the 2003 heat wave hit Western Europe. We have also analysed in detail the contribution of soil moisture-atmosphere interactions to the 2003 European summer heat wave (see Figs. The development of Birmingham’s UHI on the night of the 22nd July 2013, during a heat wave.
They point to long-term higher night temperatures from global warming and the short-term effect of localized heat and drought that spike daytime temperatures. Conversely, urban heat islands can have important consequences for which areas are most badly affected by fuel poverty. For example, an analysis of the European summer heat wave of 2003 found that the risk of such a heat wave is now roughly four times greater than it would have been in the absence of human-induced climate change.
We found that soil moisture anomalies had a substantial impact upon the strength of the 2003 heat wave and also affected the extent of the associated geopotential height anomaly (Fischer et al.
The 2003 summer heat wave was greatest in central France and Germany, and was responsible for tens of thousands of deaths across Europe. Appenzeller, 2004: The role of increasing temperature variability in European summer heat waves. Teachers Notes on using WOW automatic weather station data to look for urban heat islands with corresponding PowerPoint2 for use in the plenary activity.
One of the main causes of the urban heat island is the fact that there is little bare earth and vegetation in urban areas.
More generally, we could demonstrate that during four simulated heat waves, soil moisture-temperature interactions increase the heat wave duration and account for typically 50-80% of the number of hot summer days (see Fischer et al. Borrow instruments and other lesson resources in order to carry out your own class urban heat island fieldwork.

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