Europe had the largest increase in temperature of all continents in the past 30 years, reads a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Temperatures in Europe have increased by more than twice the global average over the past 30 years. WMO warns that exceptional heat, wildfires, floods and other climate change impacts would affect society, economies and ecosystems.
The State of the Climate in Europe report, produced jointly with the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, focuses on 2021. It provides information on rising temperatures, land and marine heatwaves, extreme weather, changing precipitation patterns and retreating ice and snow. It is the first annual edition.
Temperatures over Europe have risen at an average rate of about +0.5 °C per decade, and as a result Alpine glaciers lost 30 meters in ice thickness from 1997 to 2021, the report shows.
The Greenland ice sheet is melting and contributing to accelerating sea level rise. In the summer of 2021 the island experienced a melt event and the first-ever recorded rainfall at its highest point, Summit station.
High-impact weather and climate events in Europe led to hundreds of fatalities, directly affected more than half a million people and caused economic damages exceeding USD 50 billion. About 84% of the events were floods or storms, the report reads.
It’s not all bad news, but challenges are substantial
The report also points to positive developments. The European Union has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 31% between 1990 and 2020, with a net 55% reduction target for 2030.
Europe is also one of the most advanced regions in cross-border cooperation in climate change adaptation, and one of the world leaders in providing effective early warning systems, with about 75% of people protected, according to the report.
Taalas: Europe presents a live picture of a warming world
However, the challenges are formidable. WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas said that Europe presents a live picture of a warming world and reminds us that even well-prepared societies are not safe from the impacts of extreme weather events.
This year, like 2021, large parts of Europe have been affected by extensive heatwaves and drought, fuelling wildfires, said Taalas, and added that last year exceptional floods caused death and devastation.
Buontempo: The report provides science-based but accessible information that is ‘decision-ready’
Carlo Buontempo, Director, Copernicus Climate Change Service, European Centre of Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), said that the need and the appetite for climate intelligence is growing as the risks and impact of climate change become increasingly apparent in day-to-day life.
“With this report we aim to bridge the gap between the data and the analysis to provide science-based but accessible information that is ‘decision-ready’, across sectors,” across professions, he said.