Map of Europe stylized for temperatures.

Enlarge / Satellite-estimated surface temperatures for July 25, 2019. (credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

It’s becoming standard procedure that extreme weather events will quickly be analyzed by the World Weather Attribution team—a group of climate scientists who estimate the influence of climate change on individual events. But even so, covering fresh results on a record-breaking European heatwave is jarring, given that we did the same thing just one month ago.

The last week of July saw several days of sweltering heat around Western Europe. Weather stations in Belgium and the Netherlands hit temperatures over 40°C (104°F) for the first time on record, while the UK hit a new high at 38.7°C. Both Paris and Germany set new records at 42.6°C—over 2°C higher than either’s previous high.

The heatwave was the result of a wiggle in the Jetstream helping pull air from North Africa across France and toward Scandinavia. That pattern has happened before, so why did it break so many temperature records this time?

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