Brazil is grappling with an unprecedented heatwave, prompting red alerts for nearly 3,000 towns and cities. On Sunday, Rio de Janeiro set a November record with a scorching 42.5°C, and heightened humidity on Tuesday made it feel like an astonishing 58.5°C, as reported by municipal authorities. This extreme heatwave has affected over a hundred million people and is anticipated to persist until at least Friday. São Paulo, experiencing an average temperature of 37.3°C on Tuesday, has not been spared from the intense conditions, according to the National Institute of Meteorology.
Officials attribute this extreme heat to the El Niño phenomenon and the broader impacts of climate change. Red alerts, indicating temperatures 5°C above average for over five consecutive days, have been issued for a substantial portion of the country, signalling severe health risks for residents.
This heatwave, arriving over a month ahead of the southern hemisphere’s summer, has triggered record-breaking energy consumption as individuals strive to combat the intense heat. Residents in affected areas are describing the conditions as not just exhausting but also unbearable, particularly for those engaged in outdoor work.
Research findings from the National Institute of Meteorology highlight that Brazil’s average temperature has consistently exceeded historical averages from July to October, signalling a worrying trend. The intensification of extreme weather events worldwide is directly linked to the broader challenges of climate change, with scientists emphasising the continued lengthening and intensification of heatwaves.
The ongoing El Niño weather phase, known for elevating global temperatures, compounds the challenges that Brazil is currently facing. The combination of El Niño’s impact and the overarching climate crisis underscores the urgent need to address environmental issues and take concrete steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This proactive approach is crucial to mitigating the profound impact of extreme weather events on vulnerable regions like Brazil.