Europe Heatwave 2003

HideShow resource information
View mindmap
  • Europe Heatwave, 2003
    • Causes
      • A heatwave occurs when a system oh high pressure moves into an area, where upper levels of our atmosphere is pulled towards the ground, where it becomes compressed and increases in temperature
      • A heat wave can last up to several days due to a high concentration of pressure making it difficult for other weather systems to move into the area. The high-pressure system impeded winds,making them faint to non-existent
      • The Anticyclone also prevents clouds from entering the region. Sunlight can be very intense heating up the system even more
      • Rainfall level will be reduced due to the long lasting pressure system preventing clouds from entering the zone
      • The heatwave wasn't an isolated event. Weather extremes were also experienced elsewhere in the world during the summer months. Many experts thought global warming was a cause of this event
    • Effects
      • Socio-Economic
        • TRANSPORT - Some railway tracks buckled in the heat. The London Underground became unbearable. Some road surfaces melted. Low river levels prevented some boats from sailing
        • ENERGY SUPPLY - Two nuclear power plants to close down in Germany. These rely on water for cooling in the power generation process.
        • WATER SUPPLIES - Drinking water supplies were affected in some parts of the UK. Hosepipe bans were introduced
        • DEATHS - About 15,000 people died due to the heat in France, which led to a shortage of space to store dead bodies in Mortuaries. Temporary mortuaries were set up in refrigeration lorries.
        • AGRICULTURE - Many chickens, pigs and cows died during the heat in Europe. Crops failed in the dry conditions. This led to higher food prices. It is thought to have cost European farming 13.1 billion euros.
      • Environment
        • Extreme snow and glacier-melts in the European Alps led to increased rock and ice falls in the mountains.
        • Forest fires broke out in many countries. In Portugal 215,000 hectares area of forest were destroyed.
    • Europe Responses
      • Network Rail in the UK imposed speed restrictions for trains when the temperature was above 30 degrees. This was to help avoid trains derailing when railway lines might have buckled.
      • Workers around Europe altered their working hours. Some refuse collectors started earlier to pick up rapidly decomposing rubbish from the streets
      • Public water supply shortages occurred in several countries, including the UK and Croatia,which led to a temporary ban on using hose pipes.
      • TV news, internet and newspapers informed the public on how to cope with the heat - drinking plenty of water, wearing cool clothing, and staying in the shade in the middle of the day
    • Background
      • What is a heatwave? A heatwave is a prolonged period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity.
      • A heatwave is measured relative to the usual weather in the area and relative to normal temperatures for the season
    • Health Risks
      • HEAT STROKE - On very hot days, our bodies may not be able to keep cool enough, by sweating alone. This can lead to headaches, dizziness and even death
      • DEHYDRATION - Loss of water from our bodies. It can cause tiredness and problems with breathing and heart rates
      • SUNBURN - Damage to the skin which can be painful and increase the risks of getting skin cancer
    • France 2003 Disaster
      • France was badly affected by the 2003 heat wave. The death toll was around 15,000 people.
      • The most immediate cause of the heat wave's heavy death toll was the inaction of the government, which ignored calls for emergency intervention as fatalities rose rapidly within the first 2 weeks of August.
      • On August 29, the government suddenly announced that over 11,000 people had died in France's heat wave in the first half of August alone. Funeral and mortuaries services were put under a huge strain as the death tolls rapidly rose. Bodies had to be stored in refrigerated lorries, causing huge social issues
      • Ministers stayed in their holiday residences. President Chirac remained silent for 3 weeks, not updating people on the damage of the heat wave. When governments returned from their holidays, they met a wave of public anger. Their initial reactino was to blame ordinary people and to defend their own inaction. They REFUSED to take any responsibility for the disaster.
      • For two weeks after the peak of the heat wave in Mid-August, the French administration refused to release any official figures, insisting it could not gather accurate estimates
      • Serious doubt was cast over the government's motivation following its refusal and alleged inability to publish figures. Many doctors, health professionals and funeral services challenged the government's handling of figures and accused it of trying to minimise the crisis
      • IMMEDIATE RESPONSE France requested aid from the European Union to deal with the effects. Government scrapped a public holiday to provide extra support
      • LONG TERM SOLUTION Ministers have responded by promising a long-term action plan to protect the elderly though they have said the price tag could be high


No comments have yet been made

Similar Geography resources:

See all Geography resources »See all Case studies resources »