In Sicily today it was close to 49 degrees Celsius, the highest temperature in Europe. Specifically, in Floridia, a municipality on the Sicilian coast of Syracuse, the thermometer reached 48.8 degrees Celsius.

Not only Sicily, but the whole of central-southern Italy, and part of the north of the country, is under the influence of a torrid Saharan air current. This is causing the mercury to reach record highs of up to 47 and 48 degrees Celsius.

Extreme heat wave in Italy

The extreme heat wave is causing thousands of hectares of forests in several regions to start burning. The flames have also been raging in Calabria for days and it is estimated that between 20 and 24 million wild animals have lost their lives in the first two months of summer due to the fires: squirrels, deer, reptiles, hedgehogs, roe deer, dormice, tortoises, foxes and sparrows, among others.

Sicily declares a state of emergency

A heatwave is expected to arrive this week and, accompanied by strong winds, is putting central and southern Italy on alert. Forecasts indicate that over the next few days the heat wave will peak on Friday.

The most affected municipalities are Partinico, Campofelice di Fitalia, Vicari, Roccapalumba and Polizzi Generosa in the province of Palermo. Due to the situation, the authorities of the Mediterranean island have declared a state of emergency for a period of 6 months.

Climate change

Extreme heatwaves used to occur once every 50 years, but now occur once a decade because of global warming and because torrential rains and droughts are also occurring more frequently, according to a report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The report says the world’s population is already experiencing the effects of climate change that will be “irreversible for centuries or millennia to come”.

Among the future forecasts, they indicate that sea levels will rise between 2 and 3 metres in the next 200 years if global warming remains at 1.5 degrees as proposed in the Paris Agreement, but could exceed 20 metres with a rise of 5 degrees.

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