Extreme Temperature Diary- Tuesday August 24th, 2021/ Main Topic: Greece Joins My Heatwave Naming Bandwagon

The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😉

Main Topic: Greece Joins My Heatwave Naming Bandwagon

Dear Diary. For the last couple of years I’ve strongly advocated that the Weather Channel and other media start naming heatwaves so that more lives can be saved. The public reacts more strongly to a named event such as a hurricane or more recently a winter storm that garners a name. For those who are new to this blog, here were my rules for naming and categorizing heatwaves going into this warm season:

My ideas are not new with other scientists advocating them. Now the country of Greece is about to embrace heatwave nomenclature but only after experiencing another horrifically hot summer:

Admittedly, my criteria will need to be refined so that a central authority can more easily categorize and then name systems. Speaking of that, the only way for general agreement to name and categorize hurricanes came about due to the advent of the Saffir-Simpson scale implemented by the National Hurricane Center. Perhaps in the future as the climate crisis deepens we will need a “National Heatwave Center” to disseminate watches and warnings, very similar to what the National Hurricane Center does now.

Here is what Greece may implement as reported by Gizmodo:


Greek Scientists Want to Name Heat Waves Like Hurricanes

The move could help draw attention to the dangers posed by extreme temperatures, one of the hallmarks of the climate crisis.

By Dharna Noor

A man stands in front of a wild fire in Schinos, west of Athens, on May 19, 2021.Photo: Valerie Gache/AFP (Getty Images)

Greece has suffered through a summer of hellish heat. Now, experts want to give heat waves names and rankings like the ones assigned to hurricanes and tropical storms.

Heat is often called a “silent killer” because while it doesn’t cause the same visible destruction that storms, tornadoes, or fires do, it is one of the deadliest forms of extreme weather in the world.

“Unlike other adverse weather events, you can’t see extreme heat,” Kostas Lagouvardos, research director at the National Observatory of Athens, told the Guardian’s sister newspaper the Observer. He said policymakers and the public need to be aware of the quiet dangers heat poses, and that naming heat waves could be a way to do just that.

“We believe people will be more prepared to face an upcoming weather event when the event has a name,” he said. “They’ll become more aware of the possible problems it could cause to their lives and to their properties.”

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The need has become startlingly clear this month. Punishing temperatures in Greece have crushed records, climbing well into the triple digits as the nation bakes through its second major heat wave since June. In the central region of Phthiotis, the National Observatory of Athens recorded the country’s highest temperature since record-keeping began, at 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). The nation’s prime minister called the heat wave “the greatest ecological catastrophe of the last few decades.”

The extreme heat has sucked the moisture out of vegetation, sparking dozens of destructive wildfires that scorched more than 250,000 acres. The blazes forced thousands to evacuate, killed three, and left hundreds homeless. Two fires are still burning just outside of the capital city of Athens. But even absent wildfires, oppressive heat is also devastating in less visible ways, increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

While heat may be a silent killer, it is the clearest impact of the climate crisis. A major United Nations climate report published earlier this month found climate change has already doubled the odds of heat waves, and the risk will only increase in the coming decades. That points to the urgent need for adaptation, and naming heat waves could be one way to help people grasp the risks they pose.

Lagouvardos’ proposal is that any heat wave with temperatures forecast to be above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) for more than a week should be named and categorized. He added that this process could be more challenging for heat than typhoons or winter storms because a ranking scale would have to include assessments of factors like temperature distribution and population densities. But in other ways, it could be easier. Compared with storms, heat waves are easier to predict in severity and length.

Global climate science and medical experts have long advocated for severe heat waves to have names and rankings. Last year, some researchers, city governments, and nonprofit organizations even formed the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance, an initiative created with this express purpose.

If Greece acts on these recommendations, it will be the first nation in the world to do so. Last month, Athens became the first city in Europe to appoint a chief heat officer to find ways for the city to adapt to oppressive temperatures. The appointee, Eleni Myrivili, told the Observer she would support naming heat waves, too.

“The whole idea of making heat waves more visible by naming and categorizing them in terms of severity would be a turning point,” she said.

Here is more climate and weather news from Tuesday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”

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