CLIMATE CHANGE-SPAIN/HEATWAVES
A woman fans herself during the first heatwave of the year in Seville, Spain. Image Credit: Reuters

Madrid: Seville has introduced a pioneering system to name and classify frequent heatwaves that affect the city in Spain's arid south, which will tie meteorological forecasts to health impacts, Seville Mayor Antonio Munoz said.

The pilot project comprises three categories and will alert the population up to five days in advance of a heat event, he said in a statement late on Tuesday.

"We are the first city in the world to take a step that will help us plan and take measures when this type of weather event happens," the mayor said.

The project was done jointly with the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (Arsht-Rock), which develops solutions for climate risks through partnerships with experts and policymakers.

The heatwaves will be categorized on a three-level scale, and named in reverse alphabetical order. The first five will be called Zoe, Yago, Xenia, Wenceslao and Vega.

Seville, located in the Guadalquivir river valley in Andalusia, is one of Spain's hottest places, with temperatures easily surpassing 40 degrees Celsius during the summer. Many there fear heatwaves and droughts are likely to become more frequent.

In recent weeks, several wildfires have broken out in Spain, which registered its earliest heatwave in over 40 years with temperatures rising to 43 degrees in cities like Seville and Cordoba.

"This new method is intended to build awareness of this deadly impact of climate change and ultimately save lives," said Arsht-Rock Director Kathy Baughman McLeod.

Other cities worldwide, such as Melbourne, Athens and Los Angeles, are also working on similar plans to use weather data and public health data to categorise heatwaves.