Europe experienced its warmest autumn, winter and overall year on record in 2020
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Europe experienced its warmest autumn, winter and overall year on record in 2020

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The autumn and winter of 2020 and the year as a whole were the warmest ever recorded in Europe, according to the annual report on Europe’s climate published on Thursday by the Copernicus monitoring programme.

The annual temperature for Europe was the highest on record, at least 0.4°C warmer than the next five warmest years in the ranking, which all occurred during the last decade, according to the summary compiled on behalf of the European Commission.

Europe’s winter record was particularly substantial, as the temperature was more than 3.4°C warmer than the 1981–2010 average,  and around 1.4°C warmer than the previous warmest winter.

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It was particularly warm in the northeast of the continent, which had an impact on snow cover and sea ice, as well as on the number of days when the temperature dropped below zero.

The number of winter daytimes with cold stress has decreased over time in northern Europe, whilst during the summer months, the number of days with high heat stress levels are increasing throughout the continent.

There were several episodes of very high temperatures in the summer, however, these heatwaves were not as intense, widespread, or long-lasting as other episodes in recent years.

In 2020, Europe experienced the largest number of sunshine hours since satellite records began in 1983.

Globally, the year was also one of the three warmest years on record, with the last six years being the warmest.

Across the world, greenhouse gas concentrations of CO2 and CH4 have continued to rise by 0.6% and 0.8% respectively, and are at their highest annual levels since at least 2003 when satellite observations began.

Meanwhile, the summary also highlighted that the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in 2020 reached their highest annual global average since 2003.

On Wednesday, the European Commission announced a Climate Law had been agreed on which will make legal obligations of the goals stipulated by the European Green Deal to create a climate-neutral Europe by 2050 and reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times