Deloitte: Poland enters the phase of economic expansion

The divergence of economic moods in Poland...

Two Years On: War in Ukraine and Its Global Impact

On February 24, 2022, a full-scale Russian...

Temperatures in Europe are rising twice as fast as the global average, leading to record climate phenomena

ECOLOGYTemperatures in Europe are rising twice as fast as the global average, leading to record climate phenomena

March 2024 marked the 10th consecutive month to set a temperature record in the history of global measurements for that month of the year, according to data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). The average temperature was 14.14 degrees Celsius, which is 0.73 degrees Celsius higher than the average for March from 1991-2020. March was also 1.68 degrees warmer than in the pre-industrial era, which is the reference period for global targets set in the Paris Agreement. Another month of record heat means an increase in intense climate phenomena, including extreme events. The year 2023 was a period of records in Europe in this regard, including the largest fires, floods, and heatwaves, as indicated by the C3S report and the World Meteorological Organization.

“Europe is the continent where temperatures are rising the fastest. The increase here is about twice the global average. Since 2020, we have recorded three years with the highest temperatures ever, and since 2007, ten such years,” says Dr. Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, speaking to the Newseria Biznes agency.

According to the “Climate Situation in Europe in 2023” report, 2023 was either the warmest or the second warmest year in the history of measurements, depending on the data set used. Temperatures in Europe remained above average for 11 months of the year. It was also a year of many ignominious records.

“A record percentage of Europeans were exposed to heat stress, there were record sea surface temperatures, and glaciers melted at a record pace. We also witnessed a huge number of extreme events, which we know are likely to become more frequent and intense due to climate change, including the largest forest fire ever recorded in Europe and a huge number of storms and floods,” says Dr. Samantha Burgess.

Throughout the year, the average temperature for the ocean’s surface in Europe was the highest on record. In June, the Atlantic to the west of Ireland and around Great Britain experienced a marine heatwave that was classified as extreme, and in some areas as ultra-extreme. Sea surface temperatures were then 5 degrees above the average.

Furthermore, Europe experienced about 7% more precipitation than the average from previous years. In one-third of rivers, flows exceeded the high flood threshold, and in 16%, they reached the severe flood threshold. Record or nearly record river flows were observed in the Loire, Rhine, and Danube rivers, following a series of storms from October to December. According to preliminary estimates from the International Disaster Database (EM-DAT), floods in 2023 affected an estimated 1.6 million people and accounted for about 81% of economic losses due to climate impacts on the continent.

In the Alps, there was a significant loss of glacier ice (about 10% of their volume in the last two years), related to below-average snow accumulation in winter and heatwaves in summer. The warming effects are also visible in the Arctic region. The year 2023 was the fifth warmest year in the history of the Arctic, with all these years occurring after 2016.

The beginning of 2024 continues to set records. Globally, March was the 10th consecutive month to break a temperature record. Moreover, the average temperature over the last 12 months (April 2023 – March 2024) is the highest in recorded history, at 0.7 degrees Celsius above the average from 1991–2020 and 1.58 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average from 1850–1900.

“Many people remember that 1.5 degrees Celsius is a very important threshold according to the Paris Agreement, where all countries committed, as much as possible, to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial period. It’s important to note that having 12 or 13 months with temperatures 1.5 degrees higher does not immediately mean that we are not meeting the Paris Agreement commitments. It concerns the long-term trend related to temperatures higher by 1.5 degrees over a 20-year period. However, the fact that we had the first year of such a period that would be contrary to the agreement’s provisions is not good news and shows that we are still not on the right track,” emphasizes the deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Getting on the right track is essential because the effects of climate change are visible practically all over Europe, and extreme weather events affect millions of people.

“The warmer the atmosphere, the more frequent and intense are extreme weather events. Therefore, these extreme events from 2023—heatwaves, floods, severe storms, melting glaciers, forest fires—are likely to stay with us in the future unless we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” comments Dr. Samantha Burgess.

A record number of days with extreme heat stress and more days with at least strong heat stress have caused heat-related mortality to rise

to higher levels. Over the last 20 years, it has increased by about 30%. This increase affects 94% of monitored regions in Europe. In addition to heatwaves, other extreme weather events also had a serious impact on the health of Europeans in 2023. According to preliminary estimates from the International Disaster Database (EM-DAT), 63 people died due to storms, 44 due to floods, and 44 in connection with fires. Economic losses related to weather and climate were estimated at over 13.4 billion euros.

“We must simultaneously adapt and take action to mitigate the effects of climate change,” assesses the C3S expert. “This is not a future problem but a present one. If we look at individual phenomena, we see that they are very different from each other and affect us in different ways, depending on whether we live in the countryside or in the city. However, we need to ensure good information flow and adapt to a warmer climate in Europe by taking care of those more vulnerable to the effects of heat stress. We also need to prepare for more flooding and more extreme weather events and ensure that appropriate information is available, that citizens understand the messages sent in advance, and respond appropriately.”

The second necessary condition is to intensify efforts to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As Dr. Samantha Burgess emphasizes, it is positive that we already have the appropriate tools and technologies, which we are increasingly using. In 2023, there was a record percentage of actual electric energy production from renewable sources in Europe, which was 43%. Increased storm activity from October to December resulted in above-average wind energy production.

“In 2023, across Europe, we used renewable energy sources more than ever. The share of energy from renewable sources exceeded that generated from fossil fuels,” explains the deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service. “In some aspects, we are moving in the right direction by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, but we are not doing it fast enough. In reality, in the context of future climate changes, every tenth of a degree counts.”

Check out our other content
Related Articles
The Latest Articles