Europe confronted report ‘excessive warmth stress’ in 2023, say local weather displays | EUROtoday

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Europe endured a report variety of “extreme heat stress” days in 2023, two main local weather displays mentioned Monday, underscoring the specter of more and more lethal summers throughout the continent.

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In a 12 months of contrasting extremes, Europe witnessed scorching heatwaves but additionally catastrophic flooding, withering droughts, violent storms and its largest wildfire.

These disasters inflicted billions of {dollars} in damages and impacted greater than two million individuals, the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service and the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) mentioned in a brand new joint report.

The penalties for well being have been notably acute, with warmth singled out by these businesses as the largest climate-related risk as international warming drives ever-hotter European summers.

“We’re seeing an increasing trend in the number of days with heat stress across Europe and 2023 was no exception, with Europe seeing a record number of days with extreme heat stress,” mentioned Rebecca Emerton, a local weather scientist at Copernicus.

For this research, Copernicus and WMO used the Universal Thermal Climate Index, which measures the impact of the atmosphere on the human physique.

It takes into consideration not simply excessive temperatures but additionally humidity, wind pace, sunshine, and warmth emitted by the environment.

The index has 10 totally different classes of warmth and chilly stress, with models of levels Celsius representing a ‘feels-like’ temperature.

Extreme warmth stress “is equivalent to a feels-like temperature of more than 46 degrees Celsius, at which point it’s imperative to take actions to avoid health risks such as heat stroke”, mentioned Emerton.

‘Extended summer season’

Prolonged publicity to warmth stress is especially harmful for weak individuals such because the aged or these with pre-existing well being situations.

The impact of warmth is stronger in cities, the report mentioned.

Twenty-three of the 30 worst heatwaves on report in Europe have occurred this century and heat-related deaths have soared round 30 % up to now 20 years, the report mentioned.

2023 was not the most popular summer season in Europe — in actual fact, it was the fifth — however that does not imply it wasn’t blazing.

Much of Europe sweltered from heatwaves throughout an “extended summer” between June and September, Emerton mentioned.

September was the warmest on report for Europe as an entire, she added.

On July 23, an unprecedented 13 % of Europe was experiencing excessive ranges of warmth stress, with southern Europe the worst affected.

The knowledge on deaths in Europe from excessive warmth in 2023 will not be accessible but.

But tens of hundreds of individuals are estimated to have died because of heatwaves throughout equally sweltering European summers in 2003, 2010 and 2022, the report mentioned.

“We see that there is excess mortality when we see such extreme heatwaves like was the case in 2023,” mentioned Alvaro Silva, a climatologist from WMO.

“This increase in mortality… is affecting (the) big majority of European regions. This is a big concern.”

Serious penalties

Scientists agree that greenhouse gasoline emissions are warming the planet, inflicting extra intense and frequent excessive climate occasions.

Europe is warming twice as quick as the worldwide common and heatwaves will turn into longer and extra highly effective in future, the report mentioned.

This — coupled with ageing populations and extra individuals transferring to cities — could have “serious consequences for public health”, it added.

“Current heatwave interventions will soon be insufficient to deal with the expected heat-related health burden.”

2023 was the most popular 12 months globally on report and oceans, which take in 90 % of extra warmth produced by carbon dioxide emissions, additionally warmed to new highs.

Average sea floor temperatures in Europe have been the warmest on report, the report mentioned, with a extreme marine heatwave in a part of the Atlantic Ocean described as “beyond extreme”.

Glaciers in all components of Europe noticed a lack of ice, whereas Greece suffered the biggest wildfire within the historical past of the EU.

2023 was additionally one in all Europe’s wettest years, with main flooding affecting 1.6 million individuals, and storms one other 550,000.

Emerton mentioned that financial value of those excessive occasions was 13.4 billion euros ($14.3 billion) — about 80 % attributed to flooding.