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A previous version of this story incorrectly listed a Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion. Temperatures rose at an average rate of 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit, not 32.9. This article has been corrected.
Temperatures in Europe have risen by more than double the global average over the past 30 years, a new report says, as the continent recovers from a record-breaking summer.
Temperatures in Europe rose by an average of 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) every decade between 1991 and 2021. the earth observation program of the European Union.
“The year 2021 presented a live picture of a warming world and reminded us that even the societies we think are better prepared are not immune to the severe impacts of extreme weather events,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas wrote in the report’s foreword, citing the extraordinary floods and wildfires that have ravaged the continent over the past year.
Major weather and climate events — mostly storms or floods — “directly affected” more than half a million people, costing more than $50 billion, the report said.
The report noted exceptionally high temperatures and heat waves, including a European record 48.8 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit) measured in Sicily, Italy, in August 2021.
Rising temperatures also had a significant impact on Europe’s glaciers: the Alps lost 30 meters (98 feet) of ice thickness between 1997 and 2021, and the melting of the Greenland ice sheet contributed to global sea level rise.
More temperature records were broken in Europe this year, with England and France experiencing their driest July on record, Britain recording its highest temperature ever at 104.5 degrees and glaciers melting at an unprecedented rate.
In the Forcle Glacier in Switzerland, scientists can discover ancient artifacts where the land was once frozen. (Video: Rick Noack/Washington Post)
Extreme weather events were also recorded in winter, with unusually heavy snowfalls in Spain and Norway and an unexpected cold snap that caused severe damage to vineyards and other crops in winter 2021.
Meanwhile, heads of state and diplomats are gearing up for this year’s UN climate summit, known as COP27, in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The report acknowledged some progress made by the European Union in the fight against climate change, highlighting a 31 percent reduction in greenhouse gases in the region from 1990 to 2020. The bloc has previously outlined plans to reduce emissions by 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.
WMO chief Taalas urged Europe to advance its climate change mitigation goals, calling it “a necessary condition to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius while making efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 degrees.” limit as specified in the Paris Agreement.”
Europe is experiencing its warmest weather on record this late in the year