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Seville first in the world to name and classify heatwaves

Seville first in the world to name and classify heatwaves

By likening them to hurricanes and storms, the new strategy will emphasize the health impact of heatwaves

Seville is about to bring more attention to heatwaves – a problem that is common, and frequently devastating, to the south of Spain. Last week, its mayor Juan Espadas announced a new multi-partner initiative that will seek to study, analyze and categorize these annual climatic events and the way they affect the environment and health of the city’s residents.

What’s more, to make the methodology more relatable, the heatwaves will be named and categorized much like the way hurricanes and tropical storms are.

Heatwaves are some of the most prominent signs of climate change

The climate is changing, however, this often translates differently and with different consequences at the various points on the planet. Seville and the region of Andalusia, for example, suffer regularly from extensive heatwaves in summer with temperatures that stay over 40oC.

This past summer, for example, the town of Montoro recorded the highest-ever temperature in Spain (47.3 oC). It goes without saying, this can make living there hard to bear and can cause long-lasting and even fatal effects on residents’ health.

Extreme heatwaves are becoming more frequent and devastating as a direct effect from climate change. Local governments should address the threat heat poses to our populations, particularly the most vulnerable, by raising awareness of heat-health related hazards through evidence-based data and science. Seville is proud to become the first city in the world to develop and implement a heatwave naming and categorization system that aims at saving thousands of lives and we encourage other cities in the world to also undertake this great endeavour,” explained Mayor Espadas, as quoted by The Atlantic Council.

For the purpose of developing the methodology, the City of Seville is collaborating with the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (Arsht-Rock), its Science Advisory Panel, AEMET, Spain’s meteorological agency, the Spanish Agency for Climate Change, the University of Sevilla, and the Pablo de Olavide University. The new system of formally naming and categorizing heat waves will commence in 2022.

This approach will permit local officials to be better prepared when heatwaves strike. They will be able to implement measures, such as opening air-conditioned shelters or adding extra staff to emergency rooms, when heatwaves are ranked highly.

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