Europe’s summer last year was the hottest on record and caused thousands of deaths, a joint report by World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and European Union (EU) scientists confirmed, while warning that such events could become more routine.
The report on the state of the climate said Europe was the fastest warming continent on the planet, with the temperature having risen by about twice the global average since the 1980s.
Heatwaves led to some 16,000 excess deaths last year in Europe, said the report, which was published on Monday (June 19).
“Unfortunately, this cannot be considered a one-off occurrence or an oddity of the climate,” said Dr Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service.
“Our current understanding of the climate system and its evolution informs us that these kinds of events are part of a pattern that will make heat stress extremes more frequent and more intense across the region,” he said.
Scientists have warned of record high temperatures ahead across the world as excess warming from climate change mixes with a tip towards El Niño.
The reason Europe is warming faster than other continents has to do with the fact that a large part of the continent is in the sub-Arctic and Arctic – the fastest warming region on Earth – as well as changes in climate feedbacks, scientists have said.
Last year, severe and extreme marine heatwaves were reported across parts of the Mediterranean, Baltic and Black seas while glacier melt was the highest on record, the report added.
Overall, the average temperature for Europe in 2022 was between the second and fourth highest on record, it said.
But in what it called a sign of hope, renewable energy accounted for more of the EU’s electricity (22.3 per cent) than polluting fossil gas (20 per cent) for the first time last year.