Canada heatwave: Why are temperatures so high in British Columbia? Is climate crisis causing 47C heatwave?

Dozens of deaths have been reported in Vancouver, British Columbia after temperatures in the Canadian city soared to new heights.

Canada heatwave: Why are temperatures so high in Canada's British Columbia? How many deaths? Is climate crisis the cause? (Photo by Don Mackinnon/AFP via Getty Images)

Canada’s British Columbia (BC) province is experiencing a record-breaking heatwave in the city of Vancouver.

The Canadian village of Lytton in BC saw two new record temperatures for the country, with 46.6C on Monday afternoon (June 27) being broken by 47.9C the following day.

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Both broke the previous record high temperature of 45C set in July 1937 in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.

The heatwave comes as BC prepares to move into its next phase of reducing coronavirus restrictions tomorrow on the national holiday of Canada Day (July 1), which will see the return of festivals and regular indoor and outdoor gatherings.

Why have temperatures soared in British Columbia?

The Canadian Government’s weather warning to Vancouver citizens issued at 12am today (June 30) said: “An exceptionally strong ridge of high pressure over British Columbia has resulted in record breaking temperatures.

"The duration of this heat wave is concerning as there is little relief at night with elevated overnight temperatures.

This record-breaking heat event will increase the potential for heat-related illnesses.

"For Howe Sound, river levels have risen due to glacier melt.”

Environment Canada, the Canadian Government’s department of environment and climate change, described the event as “a massive dome of hot air, reaching high into the atmosphere, [which] remains stagnant over western North America.”

How many deaths have occurred?

According to BC Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe, there has been a “significant increase” in deaths reported since the heatwave first began on Friday June 25.

In a statement Ms Lapointe said: “Since the onset of the heat wave late last week, the BC Coroners Service has experienced a significant increase in deaths reported where it is suspected that extreme heat has been contributory.

"The Coroners Service would normally receive approximately 130 reports of death over a four-day period.

" From Friday, June 25 through 3 p.m. on Monday, June 28, at least 233 deaths were reported.

"This number will increase as data continues to be updated.”

At least 65 deaths are reported to have occurred as a result of the heatwave since Friday, with 25 deaths believed to have taken place in the last 24 hours alone.

Is climate crisis causing the Canada heatwave?

While the full scale and loss caused by Canada’s heatwave affecting British Columbia remains to be seen, many scientists and meteorologists have said that such soaring temperatures could well be occurring as result of climbing greenhouse gas emissions and a ‘heat dome’ of ozone pollution forming over British Columbia in particular.

Whether the event is anomalous or a result of climate change, and can see this cause fully attributed to such a heatwave, depends on how hot temperatures become.

But the fact that the country as a whole has reported several nightly ‘low’ temperatures over the past week which are several degrees warmer than the usual ‘high’ overnight temperatures for summer is something which climate scientists would argue reflects patterns of higher and faster global warming taking place overnight as a result of more greenhouse gases.

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