Climate Change

Summer of 2021 in Europe was warmest ever

The summer of 2021 in Europe was warmest ever

Photo: Kindel Media / Pexel

Published

January 12, 2022

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Published:

January 12, 2022

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The last seven years were the warmest on record globally by a clear margin, and 2021 was the fifth-hottest ever, Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) revealed in its annual report. Last year Europe experienced its warmest summer of all time. The document points to the trend of increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane.

According to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) report, the average annual temperature was 1.1-1.2 degrees Celsius above the levels of 1850-1900, when scientists began accurately recording temperatures. C3S is the European Union’s Earth observation programme.

The Paris Agreement from 2015 obliges the signatory countries to limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees or, desirably, to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century against pre-industrial levels. However, according to current projections, the world is facing an increase in the average global temperature of 2.7 degrees.

Frequency of extreme weather events

According to C3S’s data, 2021 continued the streak of seven consecutive hottest years in total since measuring began. It was also the fifth on the heat list individually so far, while the summer of last year was the warmest in Europe ever. We have witnessed fires in Greece and Turkey, floods in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Severe droughts across Europe have decimated crops.

In 2021, numerous disasters occurred throughout the planet. Wildfires, floods, heatwaves are all caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Extremely high temperatures and heatwaves hit the Mediterranean and North America. There were also wildfires in Australia and Siberia and floods in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Greenhouse gases increase global warming

Scientists warned in the report of an increase in carbon dioxide and methane concentrations in the atmosphere. Reducing them is key to avoiding a climate catastrophe.

Methane levels have increased significantly, with no indication the trend would stop, the C3S report notes. The agency added it is not fully understood where the rise comes from, suggesting humanity could be responsible because of burning fossil fuels, but that the greenhouse gas is also released naturally, for example from wetlands.

Heat records and heatwaves will most probably continue

Almost every country in the world could experience extreme temperatures once every two years by 2030, the authors found. The study estimates that 92 percent of the 165 countries covered by the research would experience once-in-one-hundred-year heat.

The research focused on China, the United States, European Union, India, and Russia, which are the largest sources, and how their historical emissions and pledged cuts affect the expected warming across the world’s regions by 2030.

The lead author, Lea Beusch from the Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Science at the ETH Zurich university, asserted the study proved a direct influence of the activities of the largest emitters on a regional scale. She says that it is very important as emissions and temperatures are usually observed on a global level and too abstract for the people.

The study showed that Africa is experiencing the highest frequency of years with extremely high temperatures. But the greatest overall increase is happening in areas closer to the North Pole as they are warming faster than tropical ones.

The authors of the study underscored the prediction could change with significant efforts to reduce emissions.

Projections see emissions increasing by 13.7 percent by 2030

According to current projections, emissions increase by 13.7 percent by 2030. But to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, they would have to be halved, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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