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Last summer was the warmest in Europe

Last summer was the warmest in Europe

The Copernican Climate Change Services is part of the European Union’s Space Program and provides climate data and climate information. Today they release their annual report on the European State of the Climate for 2021 which can be described as an annual health check of the Earth.

increase in average temperature

According to the report, the past seven years have been the warmest globally since measurements began. But 2021 was among those coldest. Since 1850, the Earth’s average temperature has increased between 1.1 and 1.2 degrees.

– Given the Paris Agreement and keeping warming below 1.5 degrees, the report is important. Here we see that the Earth’s average temperature continues to increase, says Eric Kelstrom, professor of climatology at SMHI.

Faster increase in continents

Corresponding temperature increases in Europe and the Arctic are 2.2 and 3 degrees, respectively. The rise in average temperatures is generally faster across continents than across oceans, and even faster in the Arctic.

Over the oceans, the air takes longer to heat up because the evaporation of the water acts as a coolant and because the heat must be distributed to great depths. In the Arctic, less snow and ice makes the surface less reflective, which in turn means absorbing more solar radiation into the system and strengthening the heating, says Eric Kelstrom.

Records of heat and forest fires

In Europe, last year also had the warmest summer ever measured. Several temperature records have been broken, including the initial European record of 48.8 degrees in Italy.

In connection with the long heat wave in the Mediterranean, it has also become very dry in the land especially in Italy, Greece and Turkey, where large forest fires have destroyed.

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In total, an area of ​​800,000 hectares was burned during July and August. This roughly corresponds to an area as large as Uppsala County. Not much has burned in Europe since 1991.

The rain has become a large-scale flood

At the same time, Western Europe experienced a lot of rain and floods instead. Parts of Belgium and Germany experienced unusually heavy rain in July as a result of the slow low pressure that carried moist air from the unusually warm Baltic Sea.

When the low pressure carried by moist air in the mountainous regions between Germany and Belgium collided, all the moisture in the rain was released in one day. Soil that was already saturated with water could no longer absorb the excess water, resulting in widespread flooding.

– On a global scale we see extreme weather events increasing, and so in Europe as well, even though 2021 hasn’t been as hot here throughout the year, say 2020, says Eric Kelstrom.

Greater concentration of greenhouse gases

In 2021, the concentration of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere also continued to increase. Above all, methane has risen in levels.

– The report indicates that concentrations increased sharply last year and do not show any downward trend or slowdown. Eric Kelstrom says methane is an important greenhouse gas, even if it isn’t nearly as long as carbon dioxide.

In line with IPCC reports

In fact, this report doesn’t say much more than what the IPCC climate reports have already told us. But it does provide new data for 2021 and serves as a compilation of how the Earth is doing and an additional reminder that the situation is important to address.

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– They are in line with each other. The Copernicus Report contains the same type of climatic data as the IPCC reports and is updated. The observations addressed are those that will eventually be woven into research articles and future reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says Eric Kelstrom.

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