South America has found itself in the grip of an unexpected and alarming heatwave during what should have been its winter season. This anomalous weather phenomenon, which defies the seasonal norms, serves as a foreboding glimpse into the realm of extreme weather patterns that may await our future, according to scientists.
Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, shattered records by experiencing its hottest 1st of August in 117 years, surpassing the previous record by a staggering 5 degrees Celsius. Cindy Fernández, a spokesperson from the weather bureau, expressed concerns about the relentless heat and described her country’s plight as “a year of extreme heat.”
“Winter temperatures are way off the scale – not only in the central region where Buenos Aires is but also in the northern regions bordering Bolivia and Paraguay where temperatures reached between 37C (98.6F) and 39C (102.2F)”
Chile, located hundreds of miles to the west, witnessed temperatures climbing towards an astonishing 40 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, regions in Paraguay, Bolivia, and southern Brazil sweltered under scorching temperatures, nearing 39 degrees Celsius, described as “brutal” by extreme weather observer Maximiliano Herrera.
“July was the planet’s hottest month since records began and the Andes are now experiencing their own thermal ordeal,” announced the Santiago-based newspaper La Tercera. “Although we’re in winter, Chile is living through a little hell of its very own.”
Raúl Cordero, a climate expert from the University of Santiago, told the newspaper that as far as temperatures and rainfall were concerned, “Chile’s winter is disappearing”.
“It’s not surprising that temperature records are being set all over the world. Climate change ensures these records are broken more and more frequently,” Cordero said.
Even Argentina’s southern region of Patagonia, which extends almost to the Antarctic Ocean, has not been spared, as record high temperatures are now a part of its narrative.
“This is already the hottest year on record,” said Fernández. “To give you an idea, we had 10 heatwaves during this 2023 summer, when the number of heatwaves in even the hottest summers before this one never exceeded five.”
Record highs are being recorded also in Argentina’s southern region of Patagonia, which extends almost to the Antarctic Ocean. “Summers in Patagonia are 1.5 degrees warmer than 60 years ago,” Fernández said.
This unprecedented South American heatwave is attributed to the combined forces of the El Niño weather system and the undeniable influence of human-induced climate change. It stands as a stark reminder of the urgent need for global climate action to mitigate the impending challenges posed by extreme weather events.
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