Naming heat waves would warn the public of its effects earlier

    With heat waves becoming rampant around the world, Greek officials and researchers are thinking about providing names for heat waves, similar to what is already being done with storms.

    ATHENS — Drastic climate changes and global warming is causing various phenomena across the globe, including heatwave-caused wildfires. The fires that grazed the Grecian coasts lately have are culminations of a very hot summer and heat waves.

    Greek scientists and officials have been thinking of taking the initiative in terms of heat waves, that is, in naming and even ranking them, as with storms.

    Athens is the hottest city in mainland Europe. In fact, the entirety of Greece was hit by multiple heat waves during the summer season, even experiencing a record-breaking heat wave with temperatures rising to 115.3 °F (46.3 °C) just this August 2021.

    A study shows that extreme heat kills around 5 million people yearly, all across the world, which is why scientists call the phenomenon a “silent killer”, citing its invisibility to be a big part of its danger.

    Due to the growing need, the first ever Chief Heat Officer in Europe, Eleni Myrivili, was appointed this July. Myrivili was Athens’ former deputy Mayor for Urban Nature and Climate Change Resilience, and is known to usher urban resilience and climate adaptation.

    “The whole idea of making heat waves more visible by naming and categorizing them in terms of severity would be a turning point. It would help people understand the danger that is looming while enabling decision-makers to trigger policies that would protect them,” says Myrivili.

    According to the National Observatory of Athens’ research director Dr Kostas Lagouvardos, if temperatures over 40 °C persisted for more than a week, Greek scientists believe that heatwave in question should be named.

    Dr Lagouvardos says that although heatwaves are relatively more difficult to rank due to the need to gauge population densities and temperature distribution, they are much easier to predict in terms of intensity and duration compared to storms.

    Meanwhile, the source of heat wave names are still being discussed and one consideration is alternating male and female names from Greek mythology and history.

    Creating an international naming convention for heat waves has been the primary objective of the new Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance, which includes the City of Athens, and other partner cities and charities.

    “We believe people will be more prepared to face an upcoming weather event when the event has a name,” Dr Lagouvardos says. “They’ll become more aware of the possible problems it could cause to their lives and to their properties.” (RF/The MiNT)


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