It’s winter in South America, but the temperatures don’t feel like it.
In northern Argentina and Chile, it has felt more like summer, with towns in the Andes mountains heating up to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, reported The Conversation.
“South America is living one of the [most] extreme events the world has ever seen,” tweeted weather historian Maximiliano Herrera. “Unbelievable temperatures up to 38.9C in the Chilean Andine areas in mid winter! Much more than what Southern Europe just had in mid summer at the same elevation: This event is rewriting all climatic books.”
“The main problem is how the high temperatures exacerbate droughts (in eastern Argentina and Uruguay) and accelerate snow melting,” said Raul Cordero, a climatologist at the Netherlands’ University of Groningen, as reported by The Guardian.
The period from January to July of this year has been one of the warmest ever recorded in South America.
“Tuesday was likely the warmest winter day in northern Chile in 72 years,” Cordero told CNN.
According to Marcos Andrade, director of atmospheric physics at Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Peru and Bolivia’s Andean plateau has been having “unusual” weather since the beginning of 2023, The Guardian reported.
Cities in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil have broken heat records.
“With the arrival of the El Niño phenomenon, it is expected that in the coming years this region will suffer an increase in the already high temperatures, making it necessary to take adaptation measures to avoid deaths and greater disasters,” said Karla Beltrán, an environmental consultant, as reported by The Guardian.
Beltrán said the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report indicated that the southern portion of South America was especially susceptible to heat waves. Periods of abnormally high temperatures are expected to occur more often in the Amazon and other northern parts of the continent, according to some studies.
“Without a doubt, the maximum temperature records in winter in Chile and, to a certain extent, in South America are atypical. High pressure systems are more intense and persistent anomalies in the southern hemisphere, inducing hot air advection and/or directly generating temperature extremes. This high pressure will tend to remain and intensify in the coming decades with climate change,” said Chico Geleira, deputy director of Brazil’s Polar and Climatic Center and a professor of climatology and oceanography at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, as The Guardian reported.
Africa, Australia and some archipelagos have also been experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures, reported The Washington Post. “Overall, this heatwave is a startling reminder of how humans are changing Earth’s climate. We will continue to see such unprecedented extremes until we stop burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” Matthew Patterson, postdoctoral research assistant in atmospheric physics at the University of Oxford, wrote in The Conversation.