Tropical nights

Steamy nights in the Mediterranean
Steamy nights in the Mediterranean

  • They usually occur during the summer months, not in early May.
  • Alicante, Elche, Vega Baja registers night-time temperatures more typical of late June.

It looks like the summer is with us although I’m betting that most of us who are able to relax are enjoying those lazy summer days. But not so much the summer nights with the region already registering temperatures that are more typical of late June.

During the day the temperatures are now reaching 30º + in many parts of the Vega Baja, up to 31º inland where people are not able to enjoy a coastal breeze.

According to Jorge Olcina, director of the Climatology Laboratory and the author of study with Samuel Biener, due to the warming of the Mediterranean, the effect of the urban heat island and climate change, a very significant increase has been taking place in the last couple of decades leading to tropical and even steamy, or equatorial nights, where temperatures can reach 25º or more.

Not quite that hot just yet, but on Monday and Tuesday nights the temperatures didn’t drop below 19 degrees throughout the entire night.

Up to 1980, steamy nights in the Mediterranean and on the coast were exceptional, but in recent years they have become more frequent, particularly on the Mediterranean coast.

In the province of Alicante, such nights have now become common in Elche, Alicante, Torrevieja, Benidorm and Dénia.

Another very important factor that determines the minimum is the sea temperature. At the peak of the summer months, it ranges between 28-30º in the bay of Alicante, especially in the area between the Postiguet and Aguamarga beaches.

“When the temperature of sea water is so high, it transmits heat and humidity to the air above (the breeze does not cool, in fact quite the contrary), but also to the areas closest to the sea.

In addition, during the summer, low clouds usually appear between sunset and sunrise, especially over the sea, which then manage to penetrate a few hundred metres onto the land, so that in those areas affected by the cloud screen higher night temperatures are recorded, according to Jorge Olcina.

“We can see that the climate is not the same as it was two or three decades ago. And it begins to worry us,” he says, “because it can affect our economy, our health, our territory. There are many indications, all verified by scientific data, that indicate that something is changing. The average temperature in the province has risen 0.6º since 1980, particularly during the night”.

The warming of the Mediterranean Sea over the last two decades, off the coast of the province of Alicante, is the most obvious manifestation of climate change and the most important problem. “As for the extension of the summers, in Alicante, they are likely to get even warmer in the coming years,” he said.