Middle East hit by record-breaking heat wave

Temperatures across the Middle East this week have soared in an unprecedented heat wave, forcing residents to stay indoors.

In the Iranian city of Basrah, located in the epicentre of the heat wave, temperatures exceeded 48°C for the seventh day in a row on August 1.

On the same day, the Iraq capital of Baghdad sweltered through its fourth consecutive day of temperatures higher than 48 degrees. Governments from both countries have been forced to declare public holidays to protect people from the sweltering temperatures.

Despite government efforts to mitigate the blistering heat, Iraqi citizens have encountered widespread power outages and electricity blackouts. Iraq's power grid was already struggling due to damage sustained from US bombing in 2003.

The length, frequency and intensity of heat waves will likely increase over most land areas during this century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Extreme weather events, such as heat waves, have had devestating effects in India and Pakistan in recent weeks.

More than 2200 people died in India from a heat wave in late May as temperatures exceeded 108 degrees.

In late June, the death toll in Pakistan's devastating heat wave shot past 1000, making it the worst heat wave to hit the country's southern city of Karachi in at least 35 years.

Other extraordinary heat-related events this year include: Alaska experienced its warmest May in 91 years, with temperatures 5.6°C above average; Spain experienced its warmest May since 1964, with temperatures 4.3°C above average; and the northern hemisphere experienced its warmest Spring on record.

All the major ocean basins experienced record-high temperatures.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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