Climatologist: Edge of European heatwave will hit Estonia on Sunday

Southern Europe has been in the grip of a heatwave for some time now, with several countries expecting record high temperatures over the coming days. While the northern edge of the heatwave is set to reach Estonia on Sunday, maximum temperatures will remain at around 28 degrees Celsius according to climatologist Ain Kallis.

The southern European heatwave "Cerberus" began a month ago. Over the coming days, temperatures in Spain, France, Greece, Croatia and Turkey are expected to exceed 40 degrees Celsius. According a report by the BBC, The European Space Agency (ESA) has warned that temperatures in Italy could even hit 48C in some places, the highest ever recorded in Europe.

Speaking on ETV morning show "Vikerhommik," climatologist Ain Kallis said that the current heatwave in Europe is attracting a lot of attention. National governments are keeping a watchful eye on the developments and have also been introducing responsive measures such as cooling shelters for the elderly.

According to Kallis, the northern edge of the heatwave will probably reach Estonia on Sunday. "Fortunately, we have low pressure systems coming from the west and a high pressure area over Finland, which holds the heat back a bit. But (temperatures of) 26-28C could reach Estonia, though maybe only for a short time," Kallis said.

However, the climatologist also noted that there is still half of July and the whole of August to come, which is the time Estonia has its hottest annual temperatures.

Kallis explained, that heatwaves are climatic phenomena, which occur all the time. It is however, the frequency of heatwaves, which determines whether they are caused by climate change.

To exemplify this, he pointed out that Estonia experienced four or five separate heatwaves in 2018. Last year, there were four, while this year the first heatwave hit Estonia in June, even though the air temperature did not exceed 30C.

Discussing long-term trends, Kallis said, that in Tartu the average annual temperature between 1901 and 1930 was 4.7C. Between 1961 and 1990 it was 5.0C, while currently it is up to 6.4C.

"This is a figure that cannot be disputed. We have been measuring temperatures pretty accurately for nearly 160 years in Estonia, and these indicators show that temperatures are on the rise. Whether some years are colder or warmer or when it snows more or unusually less than normal, is just an indication of climate fluctuations. However, the general tendency is still unfortunately that things are warming up," Kallis explained.

To date, the highest temperature on record in Estonia is 35.6C, while there are also unofficial records of temperatures reaching 38C. Kallis predicts that Estonia could well experience temperatures of 38-39C in the next few years. "Anything above 40 degrees is a bit doubtful in our conditions for the next couple of decades," he said.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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