The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service reported Tuesday that Europe had its warmest summer on record this year, with temperatures in the Mediterranean breaking records by wide percentages.
Europe, like much of the Northern Hemisphere, has been hit by a slew of extreme weather events in recent months, including record rainfall that prompted fatal floods in Germany and Belgium, as well as heatwaves that fueled wildfires in the region’s south.
From the beginning of June to the end of August, the average temperature was about 0.1 degrees Celsius higher than the previous warmest summers of 2010 and 2018, which was a very minor rise. However, it was a full 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the average for the period 1991-2020, reflecting the longer-term trend of human-caused global warming.
In addition, the year 2020 was the warmest on record for Europe as a whole.
Temperature rises were not uniformly distributed; although southern Europe set heat records and the east was warmer than usual, northern Europe saw below-average summer heat.
Copernicus’ data date from 1950, but due to the current trend of global warming, this summer is likely to set a record for the whole industrial period.
On August 11, a temperature of 48.8 degrees Celsius (119.8 degrees Fahrenheit) was recorded in Sicily, Italy. That would be the warmest day ever recorded in Europe, if confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization. The previous record was 48.0 degrees Celsius, set in 1977 in Athens, Greece.
The heat was caused by an anticyclone that also affected Spain, and it came after severe heat in Greece and Turkey, which resulted in devastating wildfires.
Temperatures at the Greenland summit climbed above freezing for the third time in less than a decade on the weekend of August 14-15, prompting rain to fall for the first time on record, with 7 billion tons of water pouring on the ice sheet.
Extreme weather events are becoming more common and intense as a result of human-caused climate change. Climate change has been connected to a number of big heatwave occurrences throughout the world.
Climate change has also made the German and Belgian floods more likely, according to a recent study by the World Weather Attribution project.
Flooding, like wildfires, is linked to high temperatures. Drought conditions can be exacerbated by prolonged heat, but it can also increase the quantity of water vapor stored in the sky, making rainfall heavier, even if it is less frequent.
When heavy rain falls over parched land, the earth fails to absorb the water effectively, resulting in floods.
To avoid the increasing effects of the climate catastrophe, world leaders agreed in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, over pre-industrial levels. Global average temperatures are already 1.2 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels.
According to a report released in August by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Europe would become hotter regardless of how much global temperatures climb. If global warming exceeds 2 degrees Celsius, critical thresholds for humanity and the region’s ecosystems will be breached.
Flooding induced by heavy rain is expected to grow in all regions of Europe, save in the south, if temperatures rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius. Drought conditions are expected to worsen in the south at 2 degrees Celsius, with less rain, warmer days, and more days of high heat.