Europe heatwave to be measured against Sicily’s record 48.8C: UN

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The UN announced Monday that the 48.8C recorded on the Italian island of Sicily in 2021 had been verified as the European high temperature record, against which the current heatwave will be measured.

The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO) keeps the World Weather and Climate Extremes Archive and painstakingly verifies any claimed records including for temperature, rainfall, aridity, wind speeds and lightning.

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“WMO has accepted a new temperature record for continental Europe of 48.8 degrees Celsius (119.8 degrees Fahrenheit) measured in Sicily on August 11, 2021,” the Geneva-based organization said.

“A committee of experts has verified the accuracy of the temperature reading, but has not yet published the full report.

“It is possible that this record may be broken in the coming days as the heatwave intensifies.”

The previous verified record for the highest temperature recorded in continental Europe was 48C (118.4F), set in Athens on July 10, 1977.

The new record temperature would normally be announced in a peer-reviewed journal but the WMO said it had not yet had the opportunity to do so.

However, given the current extreme heat being witnessed in Europe it announced that the 2021 temperature recorded in Sicily had now been confirmed as the current European continental temperature record.

The WMO said it would examine any potential new temperature records as intense heatwaves grip the southern United States, the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East and some countries in Asia, including China.

“If there are any new extreme temperature records during the ongoing heatwaves, we will issue a quick preliminary assessment and then start detailed evaluations as part of our painstaking verification process,” Randall Cerveny, the WMO’s weather and climate extremes rapporteur, said in a statement.

Cerveny, a professor of Geographical Sciences at Arizona State University, established the WMO archive in 2007.

“Climate change and temperature increase has spurred a surge in reports of record weather and climate extremes, especially for heat,” the WMO’s gatekeeper for world weather records said.

“We have to make sure that these records are verified for the sake of scientific understanding and accuracy.”

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