Europe is the fastest warming region in the world

Europe is warming twice as fast as the global average, with summer 2022 the hottest on record and extreme temperatures killing more than 16,000 people. This was the climate in Europe last year.

Since 1991, temperatures in Europe have increased significantly, averaging half a degree per decade. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), it is the fastest warming region on Earth.

Over the past 30 years, temperatures have risen more than twice the global average. This trend, especially if it continues, will completely shake our society along with extreme heat waves, floods and wildfires. This is one major discovery Report WMO and Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme.

Hottest summer ever

Last year 2022 was characterized by extreme heat, drought and forest fires. For example, Belgium — along with France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom — had its hottest year on record. The period from January to August was the driest in Belgium since 1976, with major impacts on agriculture and the energy sector.

Rainfall was below normal across Europe. It was the fourth consecutive dry year in the Iberian Peninsula – at one point Spain’s water reserves were only 41.9 percent of its total capacity – and the third consecutive dry year in the Alps and Pyrenees.

All these had an impact on public health. “The record heat stress experienced by Europeans in 2022 is one of the main causes of weather-related deaths in Europe,” said Carlo Buntempo, director of Copernicus’ climate department.

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No coincidence

He notes that this cannot be considered an exceptional phenomenon or a peculiarity of climate. “Our current knowledge of the climate system and its evolution suggests that these types of events are part of a pattern that will make heat stress more intense and intense across the region,” Buontempo said.

Heat will kill more than 16,000 people by 2022, according to the report. Also, the meteorological and hydrological effects of the heat, mainly floods and storms, have affected more than 156,000 people. Total economic damage is estimated at 1.83 billion euros.

European seas are also warming rapidly. The surface waters of the Mediterranean, Baltic and Black seas are warming three times faster than the global average. Underwater heat waves have led to the migration or extinction of some marine species, and harmful invasive species have taken their place.

Hope for the future

But the statement also symbolized “a sign of hope for the future.” Last year, for the first time, more electricity was generated from renewable energy than from natural gas, 23 percent versus 20 percent, respectively.

“Increased use of renewable and low-carbon energy sources is critical to reducing dependence on fossil fuels,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Talas. He adds that this transition should take into account ensuring the resilience of energy systems to climate-related shocks and increasing energy efficiency.

The report notes that there is a lot of potential for solar energy in the south of Europe. The greatest potential for wind energy is in Ireland and Portugal and the Aegean Sea.

Ferdinand Woolridge

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