Climate Change

Europe just had its hottest summer on record

Month of August was also the hottest on record for Europe

By Akshit Sangomla
Published: Friday 09 September 2022
The worst heat conditions in August were recorded in the eastern part of the continent. Photo: iStock

Europe just experienced its warmest summer amid scorching heatwaves, severe drought and widespread wildfires, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) of the European Union.

The summer temperature record for Europe has broken in two consecutive years, 2021 and 2022. This record-breaking summer would be considered a ‘normal summer’ by 2035, according to data from the United Kingdom Met Agency’s Hadley Centre.

The month of August was also the hottest on record for Europe. Across the world, August was the third warmest on record, with warmings similar to 2017 and 2021. It was also close to the record-highest Augusts of 2016 and 2019.

Countries across five continents have undergone heatwaves in July and early August. Many of them are now either experiencing drought or are on the brink, showing the cascading nature of extreme weather events being enhanced by climate change.

The extraordinary heatwaves of the United Kingdom have already been attributed to human-induced climate change.

Record-breaking heatwaves were recorded in China, while North America also suffered from one of its warmest summers. In China, the heatwaves and dry conditions have given way to a crippling drought with the Yangtze river, especially in Wuhan, at its driest in 150 years.

For Europe, August was warmer than the previous record by 0.8 degrees Celsius. And the summer season of June-July-August has been warmer than the previous record by 0.4°C, according to C3S.

The worst heat conditions in August were recorded in the eastern part of the continent. Southwestern Europe, where the temperatures had been above average in June and July, also suffered from well above average temperatures.

The lack of rainfall may have enhanced the heat in August in Europe. The western and eastern parts of Europe were much drier than usual in August, according to C3S.

Scandinavia and parts of southern and south-eastern Europe experienced wetter than average conditions. This was because the “southern regions were hit by a derecho storm, with extreme winds and rainfall,” noted C3S.

A derecho is a widespread, long-lived wind storm associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms, according to the National Weather Service of the United States. These parts’ wetter than usual conditions have continued through the summer season.

The conditions were also rainier than usual in northern parts of North America and Asia in August. Pakistan’s rainfall and flooding and the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa were also highlighted by C3S. 

“An intense series of heatwaves 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,” said Freja Vamborg, a senior scientist at C3S.

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