Turkish fires sweeping through tourist areas are the hottest on record

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The heat intensity of wildfires in Turkey on Thursday was four times higher than anything on record for the nation, according to satellite data passed on to the Guardian.

At least four people were killed by blazes that swept through the tourist regions of Antalya and Muğla, forcing thousands of holidaymakers to be evacuated from their hotels by a flotilla of boats.

Conditions there and at the sites of dozens of other blazes throughout the country were tinder dry. Turkey’s 60-year temperature record had been broken the previous week when Cizre, a town in the south-east, registered 49.1C.

After deadly heatwaves in the Americas, floods in Europe and China, and fires in Siberia, the scenes of destruction in Turkey add to concerns about the growing ferocity of extreme weather in a climate-disrupted world.

Wildfires are common in Turkey during the summer, but the blazes over the past two days have been exceptional. Satellite analysis by the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service show the heat intensity of the country’s fires on Thursday reached about 20 gigawatts, four times higher than the previous daily maximum.

Climate scientists have long predicted the Mediterranean will be hit hard by rising temperatures and changes in rainfall, driven by human emissions. Future wildfire risk is projected to increase in southern Europe, according to the last report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Photo: A handout satellite image made available by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Aqua satellite, shows wildfires blazing across southern Turkey, 30 July 2021 (issued 31 July 2021), sending long plumes of dark smoke swirling over the Mediterranean Sea. EPA-EFE/MODIS LAND RAPID RESPONSE TEAM, NASA GSFC HANDOUT

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