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LISBON, Portugal, August 3, 2018 (News Wires) - Eight places in the center, south and east of Portugal have broken their local temperature records amid a heatwave, the country's weather agency said on Friday.

The highest temperature recorded Thursday was 45.2 degrees Celsius (113.4 Fahrenheit) near Abrantes, a town 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of the capital, Lisbon, the IPMA said.

Temperatures in Portugal were forecast to keep building nationwide on Friday, to around 45 degrees, and to peak at 47 degrees in some places on Saturday.

 

BEIJING, August 2, 2018 (News Wires) - The North China Plain, home to nearly 400 million people, could become a life-threatening inferno during future heat waves if climate change continues apace, researchers have warned.

Soaring temperatures combined with high humidity - made worse by the region's dense irrigation network - means the China's breadbasket faces “the greatest risk to human life from rising temperatures of any location on Earth,” they said in a statement.

Megacities Beijing and Tianjin both fall within the densely populated plain, along with other major urban areas.

But it is tens of millions of farmers working outside that will be most at risk.

Even if humanity manages to slow the pace of global warming, hot spells across the region could, by century's end, exceed the human body's ability to cope, the scientists reported this week in the journal Nature Communications.

“This spot is going to be the hottest spot for deadly heatwaves in the future, especially under climate change,” said lead author MIT professor Elfatih Eltahir, who has published similar assessments of the Persian Gulf region and South Asia.

In China, heatwaves have become both more intense and more frequent since 1970, especially in the last 15 years.

Average temperatures have gone up 1.35 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1950, nearly double the average global increase.

But the human body's capacity to withstand extended bouts of heat also depends on how much moisture is in the air.

So-called “wet bulb” temperatures take humidity into account, providing a better measure of potential health impacts.

For perspiration to occur, air at the skin surface must be moister than the ambient air. The larger the difference, the more quickly the body can cool.

A sunburn, but inside the body

“But if the wet bulb temperature exceeds the human body's skin temperature of 35 C, perspiration no longer works as a cooling mechanism,” explained Jeremy Pal, a professor at Seaver College of Science and Engineering in Los Angeles who has collaborated with Eltahir in the past but did not take part in the new study.

“The body will quickly overheat, resulting in death.”

Experts estimate that a healthy adult may not survive outdoors at “wet bulb” 35 C for more than six hours.

Humidity is key.

At 55 per cent relative humidity, for example, it would take a searing air temperature of 44.4 C (112 F) to reach the 35 C wet bulb threshold.

But at 85 per cent humidity, an outdoor temperature of 37.8 C (100 F) is sufficient to surpass the limit of human tolerance.

“When it is both very hot and humid outside, heat in the body cannot be expelled,” noted Camilo Mora, a professor at the University of Hawaii who developed a model last year to calculate deadly heat days under different climate change scenarios.

“This creates a condition called 'heat citotoxicity' that is damaging to many organs,” he told AFP at the time.

“It's like a sunburn, but inside the body.”

Eltahir and Suchul Kang a researcher at the Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling in Singapore, used climate models that best matched temperature records over the last three decades to forecast heatwaves.

They looked at two possible futures.

One - often called the “business-as-usual” scenario - assumes that climate change will continue unabated, while the other allows that humanity can bend down the curve of greenhouse gas emissions enough to cap warming at about 3 C, compared to mid-19th century levels.

Surprisingly, they found that the North China Plain's irrigation system adds about half a degree Celsius to future warming, under either scenario.

“Irrigation exacerbates the impact of climate change,” Eltahir said.

Unless drastic measures are taken to limit the greenhouse gas emissions warming the globe, “the North China Plain is likely to experience deadly heatwaves with wet bulb temperatures exceeding the threshold defining what Chinese farmers may tolerate,” he added.

The 196-nation Paris Agreement calls for capping the rise in temperature at 2 C, and 1.5 C if possible.

Tokyo, July 24, 2018 - An "unprecedented" heatwave in Japan has killed at least 65 people in one week, government officials said on Tuesday, with the weather agency now classifying the record-breaking weather as a "natural disaster."

In the week to Sunday at least 65 people died of heat stroke while 22,647 people were hospitalised, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said in a statement.

Both figures are "the worst-ever for any week during summer" since the agency began recording fatalities resulting from heat stroke in July 2008, an agency spokesman told AFP.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said on Tuesday that a total of 80 people have died from the heat since the beginning of July, and over 35,000 have been hospitalised.

Among those killed was six-year-old school boy who lost consciousness on his way back from a field trip.

"As a record heatwave continues to blanket the country, urgent measures are required to protect the lives of schoolchildren," top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Tuesday.

The government said it would supply funds to ensure all schools are equipped with air conditioners by next summer.

Less than half of Japan's public schools have air conditioning, and the figure is only slightly higher at public kindergartens.

Suga said the government would also consider extending this year's summer school holidays as the heatwave drags on.

On Monday, the city of Kumagaya in Saitama outside Tokyo set a new national heat record, with temperatures hitting 41.1 Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit).

And temperatures over 40 degrees were registered for the first time in Tokyo's metro area, where the government is promoting Uchimizu, a tradition where water is sprinkled onto the ground, as part of a summer heat awareness campaign.

It was marginally cooler on Tuesday -- 36 degrees in Tokyo according to the national weather agency -- but temperatures remained well above normal in most of the country, and little relief is forecast.

The agency warned that much of the country will continue baking in temperatures of 35 degrees or higher until early August.

LONDON, July 23, 2018 (News Wires) - Britain is experiencing a severe heatwave which has prompted its national weather service to issue an alert for people to 'stay out of the sun'.

The Met Office forecasting service on Monday sent out a level-3 amber alert which will stay in place for most east and southeast England until Friday morning.

The warning is generally issued when temperatures soar to 30 degrees Celsius (86 F) or more during the day and fall no lower than 15 degrees Celsius (59 F) at night, for at least two consecutive days.

The Met Office is advising people to drink plenty of fluids and offer assistance to elderly people living on their own considered at risk.

Britain has experienced an unusual stretch of hot, dry weather that is expected to continue.

 

TOKYO, July 21, 2018 (News Wires) - An extreme heatwave that has hit in Japan has led to temperatures as high as 40C, with the casualties climbing up as more deaths were reported on Saturday.

The Japan Times reports that more than 10,000 people had been taken to hospital due to heat stroke related symptoms.

The death toll had climbed to 30, after 10 more deaths were reported on Thursday.

Some areas in central Japan registered record high temperatures of 40C, said the Japan Meteorological Agency.

On Friday, temperatures had reached a little above 35C, with the heatwave set to continue over the next few days.

The Tokyo Fire Department reported that, rescue teams responded to more than 3000 emergency calls as the temperatures soared to 40C and 317 people were taken to hospital.

Students involved in outdoor activities across the country were also affected by the rising temperatures and some were taken to hospital after they showed symptoms of heat stroke and exhaustion.

A six-year-old child died on Tuesday after participating in an outdoor class in school, which led the education ministry to urge educational institutions across the country to adopt preventive measures.

West Japan, still grappling with the devastating effects of torrential rains in the beginning of July, has now been hit by the high temperatures, which are hampering rescue and reconstruction efforts.

High temperatures also caused flight delays on Wednesday from Tokyo’s Haneda airport after one of the runway’s floor weakened due to heat and caved in, the Japanese transport ministry said.

“The actual total human toll may not ever be known as heat-related fatality reports are historically underdone since not all deaths are correctly attributed to heat and some result from accelerating serious health issues and the fatalities show up weeks later.

“The elderly and those with pre-existent conditions, such as asthma and heart failure, are likely to face declining health due to exacerbation of their conditions due to weather.

“Heat exhaustion and stroke, dehydration, migraines, loss of sleep and mood alteration can all occur due to dangerous heat.

“Historical data shows that more people are likely to be involved in vehicle crashes due to heat-related impacts, such as decreased ability to concentrate, the poor quality of sleep they get and impaired mood, etc.”

The heatwave in Japan is also reviving concerns about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which will be held during the country’s notoriously sweltering summer.

While the Games have been held in places that are hotter or more humid than Tokyo, including Athens and Beijing, Japan’s sweaty summers offer both blistering heat and smothering humidity in a particularly unpleasant, and sometimes deadly, combination.

Olympic officials and Tokyo’s local government are touting measures from solar-blocking paint on roads to mobile misting stations to tackle the heat.

But some experts fear the efforts are insufficient, in a country where summer heat kills hundreds of people and hospitalises tens of thousands each year.

OTTAWA, July 7, 2018 (News Wires) - The death toll in a week-long eastern Canadian heat wave has reached 54, said Canadian health officials on Saturday.

Most of the victims linked to the “overwhelming heat” were in the Montreal area, which recorded 28 fatalities, metropolitan health authorities said in an email.

The other victims were reported in the southwest of Quebec, the provincial health ministry said.

 

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