Tue | Oct 23, 2018

Animals, crops suffering as Europe’s heatwave hits new highs

Published:Tuesday | July 31, 2018 | 11:41 AM
Teens play at a lake in Markkleeberg, eastern Germany, Monday, July 31, 2018. (Jan Woitas/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — The heatwave gripping large stretches of Europe has already been blamed for deadly forest fires and crop failures. Now freshwater fish could be its next victims.

Some regions in Germany sweltered as the mercury hit 39 degrees Celsius (102 F,) and the German Meteorological Office said the country’s all-time record of 40.3 Celsius could be topped Tuesday.

Rivers like the Rhine and the Elbe have soaked up so much heat that fish are beginning to suffocate.

In Hamburg, authorities collected almost 11,000 pounds of dead fish from ponds over the weekend.

Firefighters have started pumping fresh water into some ponds and lakes in a bid to raise oxygen levels.

Scientists say the record heat seen in Europe but also North America and parts of Asia this year points to the influence of man-made climate change and could become more common in future.

Several of Germany’s nuclear power stations are reducing energy output because rivers used to cool the power plants are too warm.

The low water levels have also made shipping more difficult, with a complete ban imposed on boats on the Oder river in eastern Germany.

Meanwhile, the country’s Farmer’s Association is asking the government for one billion euros in financial aid to help cover losses from this year’s poor harvest.

 

Authorities in Poland last week banned swimming at over 50 beaches along its Baltic coast after hot weather led to the growth of toxic bacteria in the unusually warm sea.

Water temperatures in the Baltic Sea exceeded 23 C in some places.

Emergency water rescuers told vacationers on hot, sandy beaches — from Swinoujscie in the west to Gdynia in the east — not to enter the sea, where thick, green-brown cyanobacteria colonies have grown and pose a health threat.

Near Wildeshausen, in northern Germany, medics had to attend to a group of about 20 children and teens Monday night after the air conditioning in the bus they were travelling in broke down.

Police dogs in the Swiss city of Zurich have been getting special shoes to prevent them from burning their paws on the scorching streets.

Swiss authorities have also cancelled traditional fireworks displays in some areas during Wednesday’s national holiday celebrations, citing the high risk of forest fires.

Across Europe, forest fires have already caused major damage.

Earlier this month, 92 people died in Greece — the deadliest wildfire in recent history.

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