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Climate change: 2019 Europe’s warmest year on record

Credit: Belga

Sitting more than 1.2° C above average compared to the last 40 years, 2019 was Europe’s hottest year on record, according to a new report by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).

In fact, 11 of the 12 warmest years in Europe have occurred in the 21st century, according to C3S. Based on a data set currently dating back to 1979, they observed “a clear warming trend over the last four decades,” according to the report published on Wednesday. 2019 is followed very closely by 2014, 2015 and 2018, according to the report.

2019’s record-breaking temperatures happened throughout the year, with the summer being the fourth warmest since the start of the data set. “Central and eastern areas saw the most above-average temperatures; it was cooler than average only over a very small part of northern Europe,” C3S said.

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The European Arctic was “relatively colder” in 2019 than in recent years, but also shows a general upward trend. Air temperatures in the region, “both at sea and on land”, were 0.9°C warmer than average, the report said. The summer heatwave also caused a record amount of ice melting in Greenland.

Additionally, Europe has had more hours of sunshine than in the last 37 years. “This shows a clear upward trend in hours of sunshine over the last 40 years across the continent as a whole.” The sunniest regions were Spain, parts of France, Central Europe and most of Eastern Europe.

Net emissions of greenhouse gases have also followed a steady upward trend in recent decades. “According to scientists, it is only possible to find such high concentrations in 2019 if we go back millions of years in history,” the report said.

As a whole, the world’s temperature has increased by 1.1°C compared to the pre-industrial era, according to global climate indicators. In Europe, it rose by almost 2°C since the second half of the 19th century.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times