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Country's extreme winter heatwave poses serious threat to human life: 'Absolutely terrifying'

"This concept of 'winter heatwave' is absolutely terrifying."

"This concept of 'winter heatwave' is absolutely terrifying."

Photo Credit: iStock

Brazil, a country known for bringing the heat, is sweltering under it as a winter heatwave wreaks havoc on its inhabitants. 

A post by Colin McCarthy (@US_Stormwatch) to X (formerly known as Twitter) shows a weather map of South America ablaze in red under the caption: "On the last day of winter in South America, temperatures could peak as high as 45°C (113°F) in Brazil. Brazil could record its highest temperature in history during this winter heatwave. 'Heat will be so extreme that it will be dangerous and pose a risk to health and life,' @metsul."

What's happening?

Areas across South America, like Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil, all experienced record temperatures in September, CNN reported

Brazil was especially affected, with São Paulo reaching 36.5 degrees Celsius (98 Fahrenheit), wrapping up the city's warmest winter in more than 60 years.

The extreme temperatures are the result of a heat dome, a phenomenon where high pressure builds over an area. Air then can't escape, so temperatures keep rising, and most heat records are set within heat domes. 

El Niño — a climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean that occurs every two to seven years when warm surface water releases excess heat into the atmosphere, causing global temperatures to rise — is worsening the issue. 

"In every country we could analyze, including the Southern Hemisphere where this is the coolest time of year, we saw temperatures that would be difficult — and in some cases nearly impossible — without human-caused climate change," said Andrew Pershing, vice president of science for Climate Central, in a statement during September, as reported by CNN. 

Viewers on the X post had plenty to say, too. 

"Bet they wish they hadn't destroyed the rain forest," said one

"This concept of « winter heatwave » is absolutely terrifying," commented another.

Why is this winter heatwave worrisome? 

Extreme heat is a direct effect of Earth's rising temperature caused by human activity. So, as the planet continues to warm, heatwaves will worsen. 

CNN reported that, according to a 2022 study published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, Earth's rising temperature is projected to increase exposure to dangerous heat index levels by 50% to 100% in much of the tropics and by up to 10 times across much of the globe. 

Extreme heat is dangerous, poses risks to human health, and can even be fatal. Further, heat waves also contribute to drought and wildfires

What can be done to help? 

If you find yourself in a heatwave, follow these tips to stay safe. 

We can also all work to slow Earth's overheating by avoiding single-use plastics, integrating clean energy at home, replacing old appliances with new energy-efficient models, and limiting the burning of methane gas by taking public transportation, riding a bike, or upgrading to an electric vehicle.

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