Temperatures in parts of Brazil have soared to over 41C this week as unseasonably hot weather hit South America in the middle of winter.
Four of the country’s state capitals recorded their highest temperatures of the year on Wednesday, while highs hit 41.8°C (107.2°F) in Cuiabá, in west-central Brazil.
According to the National Meteorological Institute, the rare wintry heatwave hit 19 of Brazil’s 26 states and the capital, Brasilia, on Thursday.
Residents of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil’s two most populous cities, were also hit by the heatwave. Temperatures in Rio hit 38.7°C (101.7°F) on Thursday — the city’s second-warmest day of 2023.
According to the authorities, humidity in the northeastern states of Bahia and Piauí fell below 20 percent. The government recommended people to refrain from physical activity and stay indoors during the hottest times of the day.
Last month, Brazil experienced its hottest July since official records began in 1961, setting a world record: the average temperature was 23°C (73.4°F) during the weeks when the southern hemisphere is expected to experience its coldest temperatures .
The extreme heat records are also being broken or equaled by other Latin American countries, with Bolivia tying the record for the highest winter temperatures ever recorded in South America when the mercury temperature hit 45C (113F) in Villamontes on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Nueva Asunción, Paraguay, recorded its highest August temperature of 41.9°C on Wednesday. And Peru’s Inapari recorded 38.8°C on the same day.
The mid-winter heat shocks scientists and climate experts.
Climatologist Maximiliano Herrera said the searing heat of South America was one of the “most extreme events the world has ever seen” and one that “rewrites everything”. [climatic] Books”.
Climatologist Jose Marengo of the National Disaster Monitoring Center explained that warmer days in winter are typically caused by a high-pressure anomaly that forms a dome over a number of states, including the southeastern and southern Amazons.
“With clear skies and lots of sunshine, the ground heats up and triggers a process that leads to the formation of a warm air pocket that prevents moisture from getting in,” he told The Associated Press.
According to Renata Libonati, a researcher at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the climate crisis and the El Niño phenomenon have also likely led to higher temperatures and drier weather conditions.
Temperature records have been broken around the world this year, with much of the northern hemisphere experiencing deadly heatwaves this summer that would have been “virtually impossible” but for the man-made climate crisis.
Additional reporting by agencies