Europe suffered a year of climate chaos in 2021

By Gloria Dickie and Kate Abnett

April 22 (Reuters) – Europeans endured the hottest summer on record last year, with wildfires, floods and intense heat waves battering the continent, according to a report https:// from EU scientists published on Friday.

Summer temperatures were about 1 degree Celsius above the average for the past three decades, with Italy even recording temperatures of 48.8C – a tentative record for the whole of Europe.

A particularly violent heat wave in the Mediterranean has helped trigger serious forest fires that have burned more than 800,000 hectares in countries including Greece, Turkey and Italy. Meanwhile, record rainfall caused devastating floods across Belgium and western Germany that killed more than 200 people.

The report, published annually by Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), draws on satellite observations, on-site measurements and computer models to provide an update on the state of the continent’s climate.

“We face many challenges,” said Mauro Facchini, Head of the Copernicus Unit at the EU.

He said 2021’s record high temperatures and extreme weather underscored the urgent need for countries 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. Last year, however, was slightly cooler compared to recent years, as temperatures were tempered by a La Nina weather pattern which cooled sea temperatures in the north of the globe.

Although countries pledged under the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, most have failed to making sufficient progress and last year global CO2 emissions rebounded strongly after a temporary drop induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Countries are already bearing the consequences of inaction.

Last year, climatologists discovered that the disastrous floods in Western Europe last summer had been made at least 20% more likely by climate change – reflecting a long-known principle that for every degree of warming of the atmosphere, it can hold 7% more humidity, hiking the risk of heavy rain.

“This is one of the most visible and pronounced changes we observe with global warming,” Wim Thiery, a climatologist at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, told Reuters.

He said governments had made progress in adapting to such events by creating natural flood zones, but reducing greenhouse gas emissions was the cheapest and most effective option. to limit climate risks.

The report also revealed that sea surface temperatures in 2021 in parts of the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean were the highest since satellite records began in the early 1990s. “Parts of the Baltic were 5 degrees Celsius above average, which is a lot for (the ocean),” said C3S senior climatologist Freja Vamborg. (Reporting by Gloria Dickie and Kate Abnett; Editing by Alison Williams)

About Mariel Baker

Check Also

Tottenham ‘reaping rewards’ as new deal agreed

Tottenham are reaping the rewards of their Champions League appearance in 2022-23 thanks to UEFA’s …