This winter has been by far the hottest on record in Europe, scientists have announced, and the climate crisis has probably supercharged the heat.
Data from the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) indicates that we must go to the year 1855, in which the average temperature for December, January and February was 1.4 ° C above the previous winter record, which was set in 2015-16. New regional climate records are generally passed only by a fraction of a degree. Europe's winter was 3.4ºC warmer than the 1981-2010 average.
Non-seasonal heat has led to the failure of the ice wine harvest in Germany and the need to import snow for sporting events in Sweden and Russia. In Helsinki, Finland, the average temperature for January and February was more than 6 ° C higher than the 1981-2010 average. In the UK, high temperatures are likely to make severe flooding worse, as in 2015.
"While this winter was a truly extreme event in its own right, it is likely that these types of events have been made more extreme by the global warming trend," said Carlo Buontempo, director of C3S.
And he added: “Seeing such a warm winter is disconcerting, but it does not represent a climatic trend as such. Seasonal temperatures, especially outside the tropics, vary significantly from year to year ”.
However, scientists expect global warming to increase the number of extreme temperatures and this continues around the world. Australia, which has suffered catastrophic wildfires, has just posted its second hottest summer on record, only slightly cooler than the record set the previous year.
In Antarctica, the temperature rose above 20 ° C for the first time in February, almost a degree higher than the previous record set in 1982.
In the whole world in general, 2019 was the second hottest year on record on the planet's surface and the last five years, like the last decade, were the hottest in 150 years. The previous hottest year was 2016, but temperatures were driven that year by a natural El Niño event. According to scientists, the heat in the world's oceans reached a new record level in 2019, showing "irrefutable and accelerated" warming of the world. planet.
In the UK, the Met Office said in January that a series of high temperature records were broken in 2019 as a result of the climate crisis. This included the highest temperature ever recorded in the country - 38.7 ° C on July 25 in Cambridge.
2020 is a crucial year in the fight to stop the climate emergency and prevent damaging impacts from worsening. The UK is hosting a vital UN climate summit in November in which the nations of the world must dramatically increase their pledges to cut carbon emissions to avoid a disastrous 3-4 ° C rise in global temperatures.