An onslaught of heat waves is gripping parts of the Northern Hemisphere, as some cities face dangerously high temperatures.
In Europe, much of Italy is engulfed by the heat, with temperatures expected to reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius) in the central and southern part of the country. They are likely to creep even higher in Italy’s southern islands. Soaring temperatures and strong winds have fueled wildfires in seaside towns in Greece, the Canary Islands and a coastal village in Croatia.
Sweltering temperatures also arrived in China and the Middle East, where the heat index — which measures how hot it feels outside by taking into account temperature and humidity — has reached life-threatening levels.
In the United States, blistering temperatures are expected in southeastern California, southern Arizona, Texas and across the Southeast.
Last month was Earth’s warmest June on record, according to researchers at the World Meteorological Organization, and scientists have said that the first two weeks of July have been the hottest since at least 1940.
The bouts of exceptional warmth are driven by the continued emissions of heat-trapping gases, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, and in part by the return of El Niño, a cyclical weather pattern that tends to be associated with warmer years globally.
Hot surface air temperatures have been accompanied by marine heat waves, too. Waters near Florida and the Caribbean reached into the 90s Fahrenheit last week, posing a severe threat to coral reefs and other marine life.