Global warming twice as fast in Europe, says climate report



An earlier version of this story incorrectly mentioned a conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit. Temperatures rose at an average rate of 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit, not 32.9. This article has been corrected.

Temperatures in Europe have risen by more than double the global average over the past 30 years, according to a new report, as the continent recovers from a summer of record heat.

Temperatures in Europe have risen at an average rate of 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) every decade between 1991 and 2021, according to the annual report Report on the state of the climate in Europe published Wednesday by the World Meteorological Organization and Copernicus, European Union Earth Observation Programme.

“The year 2021 presented a live picture of a warming world and reminded us that even the societies we consider to be the most prepared are not immune to the severe impacts of extreme weather events,” said said the WMO Secretary General. Petteri Taalas wrote in the report’s foreword, noting the exceptional floods and wildfires that hit the continent last year.

More than half a million people were “directly affected” by major weather and climate events – mostly storms or floods – at a cost of more than $50 billion, the report said.

The report noted unusually high temperatures and heatwaves, including what would have been a European record high of 48.8 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit), measured in Sicily, Italyin August 2021.

Rising temperatures have also had a significant impact on European glaciers: the Alps have seen a loss of 30 meters (98 feet) of ice thickness between 1997 and 2021, and the melting of the Greenland ice sheet has contributed to a rise in global sea level.

In Europe, other temperature records have been broken this year, with England and France experiencing their Driest July on recordBritain recording its highest temperature ever recorded104.5 degrees and glaciers melting at an unprecedented rate.

In the Forcle Glacier in Switzerland, scientists are able to uncover ancient artifacts where the land was once frozen. (Video: Rick Noack/The Washington Post)

Extreme weather events were also recorded in winter, with unusually heavy snowfall affecting Spain and Norway, and an unexpected cold spell causing severe damage to vineyards and other crops in winter 2021.

Meanwhile, world leaders and diplomats are preparing for this year’s United Nations climate change summit, known as COP27, in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The report acknowledged some European Union progress in tackling climate change, highlighting a 31% reduction in greenhouse gases in the region from 1990 to 2020. The bloc has previously presented plans to cut emissions 55% above 1990 levels by 2030.

Taalas, the head of the WMO, called on Europe to press ahead with its climate change reduction targets, calling it “a necessary requirement to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, while continuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees, as specified in the Paris agreement.

Europe is experiencing its hottest weather on record so late in the year

Teresa H. Sadler