New heat record: Do we have to get used to this weather extreme?

New heat record
:Do we have to get used to this weather extreme?

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  • Thorsten Harmsen

    Torsten Harmsen

It was never as hot as 2019 in Germany. But do we have to get used to these weather extremes?

It was never as hot as 2019 in Germany. But do we have to get used to these weather extremes?

Photo:

picture alliance / dpa / Mohssen Assanimoghaddam (icon image)

Brooding heat, burning sun! Germany experiences unusually hot days for the second time this year. In Berlin, temperatures rise to 35 degrees Celsius, elsewhere even to more than 40 degrees. Do people have to get used to such weather extremes?

At the moment there is a similar weather situation as in the heat days at the end of June, explains meteorologist Jrgen Schmidt from Wetterkontor in Ingelheim. The hot air masses are driven by a high-pressure area called Yvonne, which extends from the western Baltic Sea to Scandinavia, and a depression called Vincent west of Ireland. The differences in pressure cause hot air from the south between the two areas. It comes from North Africa and the Sahara and flows over Spain and France to Germany.

The overall situation is called omega weather. It means the following: The high Yvonne is flanked by two low pressure areas: the aforementioned low Vincent and another low over Russia. Between both lows there is a vertical current (jet stream), which has approximately the shape of an omega.

The result of such a fairly stable omega situation is that the low-pressure areas, which usually pull up again and again from the west and bring rain to Germany, have no chance to get through. The high is stuck between the two lows, so to speak.

Extreme heat already a sign of climate change?

Above all, the west and south of Germany are affected. On Wednesday, it was still a measuring station in the North Rhine-Westphalian Geilenkirchen measured 40.5 degrees.

The mayor announced that, to celebrate the record, he would give the 150 town hall staff an ice cream. On Thursday, however, the records fell by the hour: with 40.6 degrees in Bonn and 42.0 degrees in Lower Saxony Lingen.

But most people do not feel like celebrating. Above all, the Benelux countries are experiencing an unprecedented heat. The Netherlands registered more than 40 degrees on Thursday. “That’s never been there before,” says meteorologist Jrgen Schmidt. But the weather should change. “The omega will be cut in the next few days,” said Schmidt. The greatest heat is over once.

“We are more likely to be in volatile zones,” says Schmidt. On Sunday at the latest it will be a bit cooler in the Berlin area, but also more humid. It could come to showers and thunderstorms. The meteorologist expects “normal summer Central European temperatures” of 24 to 30 degrees. In the south and west of Germany, it could rain more heavily over a longer period of time.

Is the extreme heat of the past days already a sign of climate change? “A few hot summers are not yet climate change,” says Jrgen Schmidt. For this one must observe the weather development over decades. However, there are quite remarkable developments. “Basically, the temperature has risen,” says Schmidt. Comparing the periods from 1961 to 1990 and 1980 to 2010, one can see that the long-term mean temperature of the year has increased by 0.5 to one degree Celsius.

Weather extremes: Omega weather conditions already caused heat and drought in 2018

Climatologists predict that there will be more frequent heat waves in Germany in the future. If it were possible to limit global warming to two degrees, it would only be a few days more, said Daniela Jacob, the director of the Climate Service Center Germany in Hamburg, the German Press Agency.

“Then at the end of the century, we would still have a climate similar to today: heat waves already, unusual compared to 30 or 40 years ago, but then the weather would be similar to today,” said Jacob.

If global warming continues to increase, “it could well be two, three months around the 25, 30 degrees,” said Jacob. Every single person has to be prepared for this, as well as the world of work. Jacob advocated rhythms “that are healthier for the human body,” for example, a siesta culture, as it was formerly cultivated in southern Europe.

Incidentally, it was also an omega-weather situation that caused weeks of heat and drought in 2018. Until today, large parts of Germany suffer from the effects, because it remained dry and the water reservoirs were not refilled. Just a few days ago, the Bund Deutscher Forstleute (BDF) complained that the forests were close to collapse. More than a hundred million old trees have already died.

Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) demanded on Thursday to replace collapsing spruce forests with “healthy, climate-resilient and semi-natural mixed forests”. Critics, however, replied that all tree species were affected, deciduous and conifers.