Europeans experienced the hottest summer on record last year, with wildfires, floods and intense heatwaves battering the continent, according to a report by EU scientists published on Friday.
Summer temperatures were around 1°C above the average for the last three decades, with Italy even registering temperatures of 48.8°C – a temporary record for all of Europe.
A particularly bad heatwave in the Mediterranean helped ignite severe wildfires that burned more than 800,000 hectares in countries including Greece, Turkey and Italy.
Meanwhile, record rainfall led to devastating floods in Belgium and western Germany, killing more than 200 people.
The report, published annually by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), uses satellite observations, field measurements and computer models to provide an update on the continent’s climate.
“We face many challenges,” said Mauro Facchini, head of the Copernicus unit at the EU.
He said record temperatures and extreme weather in 2021 showed countries urgently need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to avoid further warming that would trigger more destructive weather events.
Globally, the past seven years have been the warmest on record.
However, last year was slightly cooler compared to recent years as temperatures were moderated by a La Nina weather pattern that is cooling sea temperatures in the north of the world.
Although countries committed under the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, most have not made sufficient progress, and over the past year global CO2 emissions have declined recovered strongly from a temporary drop caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Countries are already experiencing the consequences of inaction.
Climate scientists found last year that climate change made last summer’s catastrophic floods in western Europe at least 20 percent more likely – reflecting a well-established principle that for every degree of warming, the atmosphere can hold 7 percent more moisture, increasing the likelihood of heavy rain. Read the full story
“This is one of the most visible and pronounced changes we are seeing in global warming,” Wim Thiery, a climate scientist at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, told Reuters.
He said governments have made some progress in adapting to such events by creating natural flood plains, but that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the cheapest and most effective option to limit climate hazards.
The report also found that sea surface temperatures in 2021 in parts of the Baltic Sea and Mediterranean Sea were the highest since satellite records began in the early 1990s. “Parts of the Baltic Sea were 5°C above average, which is quite a lot for (the ocean),” said Freja Vamborg, a senior climate scientist at C3S.
https://www.independent.ie/news/environment/europe-endured-hottest-summer-on-record-amid-year-of-climate-chaos-in-2021-eu-report-released-today-41576632.html Europe experienced hottest summer on record in 2021 amid climate chaos – EU report released today