Seville will name and classify heat waves to protect the public | Spain

The city of Seville in southern Spain is to become the first in the world to name and classify heat waves – the same way tropical storms or hurricanes are named – in a bid to better protect people. residents as periods of excessively hot weather become more frequent.

The year-long pilot project in one of Spain’s hottest cities will classify heat waves into three categories and name them from a list including Xenia and Wenceslao.

The initiative is part of a broader package of measures, from emissions reductions to decarbonization, aimed at tackling climate change, said the city’s mayor, Antonio Muñoz.

“We are the first city in the world to take a step that will help us plan and take action when this type of weather event occurs – especially because heat waves always hit the most vulnerable,” Muñoz noted. . in a statement this week.

The pioneering program comes days after Spain went through one of its first heat waves on record and after May was rated as the hottest in 58 years. The frequency of heat waves in Spain has doubled compared to previous decades, according to national meteorological agency Aemet.

Seville, where temperatures often soar above 40C, is about 100 miles from the town of Montoro where the mercury soared last year to The highest ever recorded in Spain temperature at 47.4C.

At the heart of the pilot is an algorithm that will predict heat waves up to five days in advance and rank them based on potential impact on human health and mortality. Each category will be linked to specific measures such as the opening of municipal swimming pools or the dispatch of health workers to check on elderly or at-risk people.

Heat waves that reach category 3 – the most severe – will be named in descending order of the Spanish alphabet. The first five names have already been chosen: Zoe, Yago, Xenia, Wenceslao, Vega.

The project is launched in collaboration with the Resilience Center of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation, or Arsht-Rock, which focuses on building resilience in the face of climate change, as well as climatologists, social and behavioral scientists and public health experts.

The center is working with seven other cities, including Melbourne and Greece, on similar plans to categorize or classify heat waves, although Seville is so far the only city with plans for naming heat waves.

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The goal is to raise awareness of the deadly impact of climate change and potentially save lives, said Arsht-Rock’s Kathy Baughman McLeod. in an October statement that plans for the pilot have been announced.

“Heat waves have been nicknamed ‘the silent killer’ for a reason,” Baughman McLeod said. “They wreak unseen havoc on our economies, attack the most vulnerable members of society and kill more people than any other climate-related hazard, yet the dangers they pose are vastly underestimated and gravely misunderstood. .”

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