Germany, Spain, and Greece have been facing worst of Europe’s extraordinary heat wave. Apart from that, wildfires have also ravaged the three countries.
- Countries have witnessed temperatures rising to record highs even before the official start of summer that is before summer solstice on June 21.
- The Sierra de la Culebra Mountain range in Spain is affected. Fires have destroyed almost 25,000 hectares. This had led to evacuation of residents of 18 municipalities.
- Wildfires are also raging in Tarragona, Lleida, and Garraf in north-eastern region of Catalonia.
- In Germany, wildfires have reached to 50 km southwest of Berlin.
Why forests catch fire?
- Wildfire is a major fire which breaks out unpredictably in combustible environments like dry bush or forests.
- They often burn uncontrollably across a large area and length of time. Forest fires are triggered by natural factors like prolonged dry and hot weather, or lightning strikes, or human carelessness.
- They require fuel, oxygen and heat to grow and spread. They can be extinguished when at least one element is removed.
Why wildfires cause destruction?
- Wildfires cause immense destruction, because of speed of their spread. Speed depends on the weather, fuel, winds, and topography.
- High temperatures and droughts led t devastating wildfires in California, Brazil, Australia, and southern Europe.
- Slopes are more prone to catch fire, as they face the sun and retain more heat.
- As per European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), Europe witnessed the second worst fire in 2021, since EFFIS started keeping list of wildfires in 2000.
How does climate change affect fires?
- Climate change have made heat waves 5 to 10 times worse as compared to heat waves about a century ago.
- Global warming is causing extreme weather events like hotter temperature, famines, droughts, rain, and floods.
- Earliest heatwave in 2022 in Europe sent the mercury past 40 degrees Celsius.
- These temperatures are expected only in July or August. May 2020 recorded the highest level of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere (420 ppm).
- Wildfires in Germany, Spain and Greece can also be linked to hotter temperatures and low humidity as a result of climate change.