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Europe suffers from extreme weather as climate chaos mounts


Activists take part in a climate change “Friday for Future” protest in Turin, Italy, March 25, 2022. (EPA Photo)Forests and homes across more than 8,000 square kilometers (3,000 square miles) were burned to the ground.

Ns News Online Desk: Europe has endured record extreme weather in 2021, from the hottest day and the warmest summer to deadly bushfires and flooding, the European Union’s climate monitoring service reported on Friday.

While Earth’s surface was nearly 1.2 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrial levels last year, Europe saw an average increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius, a threshold beyond which dangerous extreme weather events become frequent and intense, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said.

On record, the warmest summer featured a heatwave along the Mediterranean rim lasting weeks and the hottest day ever registered in Europe, a blistering 48.8 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit) in Italy’s Sicily.

In Greece, high temperatures fueled deadly wildfires described by the prime minister as the country’s “greatest ecological disaster in decades.” Forests and homes across more than 8,000 square kilometers (3,000 square miles) were burned to the ground.

A slow-moving, low-pressure system over Germany, meanwhile, broke the record in mid-July for the most rain dumped in a single day. The downpour was nourished by another unprecedented weather extreme as surface water temperatures over part of the Baltic Sea were more than 5 degrees Celsius above average.

Flooding in Germany and Belgium caused by the heavy rain – made far more likely by climate change, according to peer-reviewed studies – killed scores and caused billions of euros in damage. As the climate continues to warm, flooding on this scale will become more frequent, the EU climate monitor has warned.

“2021 was a year of extremes, including the hottest summer in Europe, heatwaves in the Mediterranean, flooding and wind droughts in western Europe,” C3S director Carlo Buontempo said in a statement. “This shows that the understanding of weather and climate extremes is becoming increasingly relevant for key sectors of society.”

The annual report, in its fifth edition, also detailed weather extremes in the Arctic, which has warmed 3 degrees Celsius above the 19th-century benchmark – nearly three times the global average.

Carbon emissions from Arctic wildfires, mostly in eastern Siberia, topped 16 million tons of carbon dioxide, roughly equivalent to the total annual carbon pollution of Bolivia. Greenland’s ice sheet – which, along with the West Antarctic ice sheet, has become the main driver of sea-level rise – shed some 400 billion tons in mass in 2021.

The pace at which the world’s ice sheets are disintegrating has accelerated more than three-fold in the last 30 years.

“Scientific experts like the IPCC have warned us we are running out of time to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” said Mauro Facchini, head of Earth observation at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Defense Industry and Space, referring to the United Nations’ science advisory panel.

“This report stresses the urgent necessity to act as climate-related extreme events are already occurring.”


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