Hottest summer on record in Europe, but not in Belgium

Hottest summer on record in Europe, but not in Belgium
Credit: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga.

This summer was marked by heatwaves, forest fires and long periods of drought across Europe, and has now officially been named the continent's hottest on record by the EU's Earth observation programme Copernicus.

The average temperature over Europe was the highest on record for both August and summer (from June – August) by substantial margins of 0.8°C over 2018 for August and 0.4°C over 2021, when previous records were made.

In Belgium, last month was the warmest August on record, but an overall record was not broken.

"The summer of 2022 was not the warmest since records began, but much warmer than normal (average 19.6°C compared to 17.9°C for the period 1991-2020)," Climatologist Rozemien De Troch from the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium (RMI) told The Brussels Times.

Weather affecting society and nature

Copernicus data showed that while European temperatures were most above average in the east of the continent in August, they were still well above average in the southwest. The bloc also recorded very high temperatures in June and July. Heatwaves were prevalent here for all three summer months.

"An intense series of heatwaves across Europe, paired with unusually dry conditions, have led to a summer of extremes with records in terms of temperature, drought and fire activity in many parts of Europe, affecting society and nature in various ways," Senior Scientist for the Copernicus Climate Change Service, Freja Vamborg, said.

"We’ve not only had record August temperatures for Europe but also for summer, with the previous summer record only being one year old," she added.

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Last month was generally also much drier than average in much of western and parts of eastern Europe, however, it was wetter-than average over most of Scandinavia and parts of southern and southeastern Europe, which were hit by a “derecho” storm, bringing with them extreme winds and rainfall.

Global problem

Across the world, the average temperature in August was 0.3°C higher than the 1991-2020 average for the month, and the joint third warmest August on record.

In central and eastern China, extremely dry and warm temperatures were recorded during all three summer months, while North America also experienced one of its warmest summers.

However, conditions were also wetter than average in many extratropical regions, and in many locations, heavy precipitation triggered floods and inundations. Pakistan saw particularly severe conditions with record-breaking rainfall.

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