Mayor Juan Espadas of Seville, Spain has announced a new multi-partner initiative that will seek to study, analyze, categorize, and name the annual heatwaves that affect the city, and the way they affect the environment and health of the city’s residents. It is hoped that the act of naming them – as is done with hurricanes and major storms – will emphasize their overall impact.
Seville and the region of Andalusia report frequent extensive heat waves in summer with temperatures that stay over 40C (104F). This past summer, a town in the region recorded the highest-ever temperature in Spain, 47.3C (~117F).
The city is collaborating with the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (Arsht-Rock), its Science Advisory Panel, AEMET, Spain’s meteorological agency, the Spanish Agency for Climate Change, the University of Sevilla, and the Pablo de Olavide University to develop the methodology. The new system of formally naming and categorizing heat waves will begin in 2022.
It is expected that this approach will permit local officials to be better prepared when heat waves strike, and implement measures, such as opening air-conditioned shelters or adding extra staff to emergency rooms.
“Extreme heat waves are becoming more frequent and devastating as a direct effect from climate change. Local governments should address the threat heat poses to our populations, particularly the most vulnerable, by raising awareness of heat-health related hazards through evidence-based data and science. Seville is proud to become the first city in the world to develop and implement a heatwave naming and categorization system that aims at saving thousands of lives and we encourage other cities in the world to also undertake this great endeavour,” stated Mayor Espadas.