A joint report by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization and the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service found that average temperatures in the European region have increased by 0.5 degrees Celsius every decade since 1991.
As a result, Alpine glaciers lost 30 meters (just under 100 feet) in ice thickness between 1997 and 2021, while the Greenland ice sheet is melting rapidly, contributing to accelerating sea level rise.
Last year, Greenland experienced the meltdown and the first recorded rainfall at its highest point. The report warned that regardless of future levels of global warming, temperatures will continue to rise at a rate that exceeds global average temperature changes across Europe.
“Europe offers a vivid picture of a warming world and reminds us that even well-prepared societies are not safe from the effects of extreme weather events,” WMO president Petteri Taalas said in a statement. Said.
The WMO divides the world into six regions, with the European region comprising 50 countries and half of the rapidly warming Arctic, which is not a continent in itself.
Within Antarctica, which is a continent but outside of the six regions defined by the WMO, only the West Antarctic Peninsula is seeing rapid warming.
The new report, published ahead of the UN’s 27th climate conference, which will begin in Egypt on Sunday, examined the situation in Europe up to 2021.
Last year, it found that high-impact weather and climate events – particularly floods and storms – caused hundreds of deaths, directly affected more than half a million people, and caused more than $50 billion in economic damage across Europe.
The report also highlighted some of the positive aspects, including the success of many European countries in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Across the EU, such emissions were reduced by about a third between 1990 and 2020, and the bloc has set a net 55 percent reduction target for 2030.
In the report, it was stated that Europe is also one of the most developed regions when it comes to cross-border cooperation in adaptation to climate change. He also hailed Europe’s deployment of the world’s leading early warning systems, protecting about 75 percent of the population, and said heat-health action plans have saved many lives.
“European society is vulnerable to climate variability and change,” said Carlo Buontempo, head of Copernicus’ European Center for Intermediate-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). But Europe is also at the forefront of international efforts to develop innovative solutions to mitigate climate change and adapt to the new climate that Europeans will have to live with.”
Still, the continent faces formidable challenges.
“This year, like 2021, much of Europe has been affected by intense heatwaves and drought, fueling wildfires,” he said, and also condemned the “death and destruction” caused by last year’s “extraordinary flooding”.
And going forward, the report warned that “the frequency and intensity of extreme heat… will continue to increase,” regardless of the greenhouse gas emissions scenario.
The report warned that this is alarming, given that the deadliest extreme climate events in Europe are heatwaves, particularly in the west and south of the continent.
“The combination of climate change, urbanization and aging in the region is creating and will exacerbate vulnerability to heat,” the report said.
The changing climate is also promoting other health problems. It has already begun to alter the production and distribution of pollen and spores that seem to lead to an increase in various allergies.
More than 24 percent of adults living in the European region suffer from such allergies, including severe asthma, while the rate among children is 30-40 percent and is increasing.
The warming climate is also causing more vector-borne diseases, ticks are moving to new areas and bringing Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis. Asian tiger mosquitoes also move north, putting them at risk for Zika, dengue fever and chikungunya, the report said.