A man wiping sweat from his face under the hot sun.

With extreme heat events becoming more common, authorities are looking for ways to warn the public about dangerous temperatures. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Scientists have never named a heat wave before. They used to call it ZOE.

According to USA Today, the Spanish scientists gave the nickname to the heat wave that hit the city of Seville in July. An associate professor in the department of Condensed Matter physics at Sevilla University told the newspaper that it was a new effort to alert the public to extreme temperatures.

The United States has an unofficial practice of giving winter storms nickname. ZOE is the first heat wave to be named. A Washington-based research center and non-profit organization is behind the name of the project. The goal of the project is to raise public awareness of extreme heat and to advocate for efforts to reduce heat waves.

How heat waves kill so fast.


The heat waves are not just warm. They are defined by the Spanish State Meteorological Agency as episodes of at least three consecutive days during which a minimum of 10% of weather stations record maximum temperatures above the 95th percentile. The EPA uses a benchmark of at least two days when the daily minimum temperature, adjusted for humidity, is greater than the 85th percentile for July and August between 1981 and 2010.

Older individuals and people who do manual labor in the heat can be at risk. Between 2000 and 2016 the number of people exposed to extreme heat increased by 125 million. The temperature in England in July was 104 degrees F (40 degrees C). This level of heat can be fatal in regions that don't have air conditioning.

Climate change is causing the United States to experience periods of extreme heat. Extreme heat is likely to become more common in the future according to a report by the First Street Foundation. Some of the most extreme shifts will be experienced in the Deep South, southern Arizona and central California. Miami-Dade County in Florida will likely see 34 days above 103 degrees F (39.4 degrees C) by 2053, compared with seven today.

The effects of global warming are related.

While 8 million people in the United States this year will experience a heat index above 125 degrees F (51.6 degrees C), a staggering 105 million are expected to experience those temperatures by 2053, according to the nonprofit. The heat index takes humidity into account. The higher the humidity, the cooler the air will be.

The first heat wave of the year will not be the last. Female and male names will be alternated in Spain for heat events. According to USA Today, Sevilla hopes to let the public know that they need to take care. In a heat wave, the WHO recommends opening windows at night to let in cooler air and keeping light out. Babies, people over the age of 60, and people with chronic health conditions should be protected from the heat.

It was originally published on Live Science