According to new data released by the Copernicus Climate Change Services on Thursday 7 September 2022, this summer has been the hottest on record in Europe. Searing heat waves, prolonged droughts and massive wildfires all contributed to this unprecedented event, with the combination of high temperatures and extremely dry conditions fueled by climate change wreaking havoc across the continent.
It was the second time in a row that Europe broke such records, with average temperatures 0.4 degrees Celsius higher than the previous record set in 2021. August was particularly hot, surpassing the 2018 record by a staggering 0.8 degrees Celsius. These extreme climatic conditions resulted in thousands of deaths, myriad crops withered, vast forests turning brown and barren, and wildfires raging from the Caucasus Mountains to the Atlantic coast and consuming about 50% more land than the previous record of 2017.
According to scientists, these problems have been exacerbated by anthropogenic global warming. For example, a recent study showed that greenhouse gas emissions made a UK heatwave in July ten times more likely. Additionally, climatic cycles of hot weather and drought led to the formation of “heat domes” that deflected rain and forced Europe to bake in nearly unbearable sun and heat.
“We expect these types of hot extremes to become more frequent and more severe due to climate change,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus service. “Trends in this direction are clearly visible in the sighting records.”
Globally, this summer has been the third hottest on record, with massive heat waves scorching large areas in China and prolonged droughts gripping the western United States and Canada. The South Pole was also exceptionally warm, with sea ice extent around Antarctica reaching a record high in July.
These heat waves have often been followed in many parts of the world by massive rains, such as those in Pakistan, which caused more than 1,300 deaths and covered about a third of the country in water, or the historical rainfall in the Valley of the Death that swept away hikers and destroyed roads.
“Whiplash has always happened, but now we’re seeing shifts from one weather pattern to another become more violent and disruptive,” said Jennifer Francis, senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center. It is “another clear signal that the climate crisis is with us now”.
By Andrei Ionescu, Terre.com Personal editor