Climate: Summer 2021 warmest in Europe since the beginning of the recordings – Panorama

Summary for 2021: a year of extremes, including the hottest summer in Europe, heat waves in the Mediterranean, floods and calm winds in Western Europe. Photo: Martin Gerten / dpa

As flames erupted in Southern Europe, many people in Germany lost their lives in a century-long flood. 2021 was a year of extreme weather. These are likely to become even more frequent in view of climate change.

Reading – Last summer was the warmest in Europe since the census began, according to current climate data. It was about one degree warmer than the average for the years 1991 to 2020, according to the current annual report of the EU climate change service Copernicus.

Copernicus data dates back to 1979. The Climate Change Service also uses recordings from ground stations, balloons, airplanes and satellites since 1950.

“2021 was a year of extremes, including the hottest summer in Europe, the heat waves in the Mediterranean, the floods and calm winds in Western Europe, showing that understanding the weather and climatic extremes is becoming increasingly important for key sectors of society “, said Carlo Buontempo. , who service director.

Heat, forest fires, floods

In parts of the Baltic Sea, the annual sea surface temperature was more than five degrees above average. A temporary European record of heat was measured in Sicily at 48.8 degrees. Because the heat wave lasted two to three weeks in parts of Italy, Greece and Turkey and there was a drought at the same time, multiple devastating forest fires could break out there, according to the Climate Change Service. In July and August alone, an area of ​​800,000 hectares was burned in the Mediterranean region. This corresponds to half of the Schleswig-Holstein area.

Climate researchers took a closer look at the flood disaster, which claimed the lives of more than 180 people in Germany. The disaster was also able to develop this way because an extremely large amount of rain had already fallen in previous weeks and therefore the land could no longer have absorbed enough water, it was said. Water volumes in the Rhine and Meuse watersheds are estimated to be the highest since 1991. It is difficult to unequivocally attribute such events to climate change, said the report’s lead author, Freya Vamborg. “But we know that in a warming world we will see more and more of these events.”

CO2 and methane concentrations increase

According to the report, the percentage of climate-damaging gases in the earth’s atmosphere, which are the main cause of global warming, rose again last year: the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased by 2.3 ppm (parts per million air particles). . Methane increased by 16.5 ppb (parts per billion air particles), a much larger increase than in previous years.

Although methane stays in the atmosphere for a shorter time, it is even more harmful than CO2 and is produced, for example, in agriculture, in landfills or in the oil and gas industry. “This is definitely a cause for concern, but also an open research question,” said Vincent-Henri Peuch, who leads data monitoring in the Climate Change Service. It is still unclear whether significantly more methane has been emitted or whether the effect of natural sinks has changed.

Climate researchers: Drastic savings in emissions nrequired

According to a report recently published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), greenhouse gas emissions must have peaked before 2025 to reach the 1.5 degree target agreed by the United Nations and then be significantly reduced. The international body of climate researchers from around the world warned that this would require immediate and drastic reductions in emissions.

Scientists agree that the most catastrophic consequences of climate change can be avoided only by limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times. So far, the efforts of states to protect the climate are by no means sufficient.

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