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Explained: Why Europe is particularly impacted by heatwaves

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By Lauren Chadwick
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A man uses cool morning hours for a run on a small road in the outskirts of Frankfurt, Germany, July 18, 2022.
A man uses cool morning hours for a run on a small road in the outskirts of Frankfurt, Germany, July 18, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Michael Probst

Europeans sweltered under multiple heatwaves this summer in a taste of what is to come in the coming years as climate change is particularly impacting the Old Continent, an expert has explained to Euronews.

"Europe is particularly affected with an amplified heat wave trend that is three to four times larger than compared to the rest of the mid-latitudes," Kai Kornhuber, a climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory told Euronews.

The soaring temperatures over Europe are believed to have caused thousands of heat-related deaths while tens of thousands were also forced the evacuate their homes or holiday accommodations because of raging wildfires fuelled by the heat. 

A new European record of 48.8°C is believed to have been reached earlier this month in the Syracuse province of Sicily while many other countries also experienced over-40°C heat. 

At cause is a "specific" jet stream state -- two narrow bands of strong wind in the upper levels of the atmosphere -- that tends to make weather systems more persistent over Europe, leading to a higher risk of extreme heat, Kornhuber added. 

"I think we should really be worried," he warned, forecasting that Europe is likely to suffer under even more "extreme" and "frequent" heatwaves. 

According to meteorologists, it is now likely that summer temperatures in Europe could in the future exceed 50°C.

Watch our interview with Kai Kornhuber for more details in the video player above.