Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

'Disturbing': Europe Is Warming Much Faster Than Science Predicted

Science
Satellite data of temperatures across Europe in later June 2019 and late July 2019, when a heat wave swept across the continent. © Copernicus Sentinel / ESA / CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Summers in Europe are much hotter than they used to be and winters aren't nearly as cold as they once were. And, the continent is warming much faster than climate models had once projected. That is the disturbing takeaway from a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


This summer saw two unbearable heat waves blanket Europe. The second set new records for high temperature when the mercury hit 114.8 degrees Fahrenheit in Southern France. As the climate crisis worsens, Europe can expect extreme heat more frequently and with increased intensity, the researchers said in a press release put out by the American Geophysical Union.

The European summer and winter are seeing hotter days. Extremely hot days have gotten 4.14 degrees Fahrenheit hotter on average, the study found. In the winter, extremely cold days warmed up by an average of 5.4 degrees F. The research analyzed nearly 70 years of temperatures from weather stations across Europe, dating back to 1950. The researchers found that more than 90 percent of stations showed a trend of global heating, as Environment 360 at Yale reported. When such a large number of weather stations report the same data, it's too high a percentage to be from natural variability.

"Even at this regional scale over Europe, we can see that these trends are much larger than what we would expect from natural variability," said Ruth Lorenz, a climate scientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, and lead author of the study, in a statement. "That's really a signal from climate change."

While most Europeans are abundantly aware of the climate changing before their eyes, the disturbing finding is that the rate of heating is beyond what any climate models had predicted, as Gizmodo reported.

"In the Netherlands, Belgium, France, the model trends are about two times lower than the observed trends," said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, a climate analyst at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute who was not connected to the new study, in a statement. "We're reaching new records faster than you'd expect."

To put it bluntly, the study found that there is no way these changes are natural.

Not only are the winter extremes not as cold as they once were, there are far fewer extremely cold days than there used to be. Some European weather stations saw half as many as extreme cold days, while others reported a three-fold decrease.

While it is clear that Europe will experience hotter summers and winters, what is not known is how well people will adapt to the accelerated changes. Extreme heat stresses the human body and can easily lead to exhaustion or heat stroke. As the heat intensifies, so does the danger.

"Lots of people don't have air conditioning for instance and it makes this really important," said Lorenz in a press release. "We expected results based on modeling studies but it's the first time we see it in what we've observed so far."

Maarten van Aalst, director of Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and a professor at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, was not involved in the study but he told the Earther blog at Gizmodo that the trend toward heat waves carries massive humanitarian implications.

"Heatwaves are a silent killer; while for many people a heatwave just means a few hot days in the office, or even a nice day at the beach, heat is literally life-threatening to vulnerable groups like the elderly and chronically ill," he said. "Contrary to, for instance, storms and floods, these casualties usually do not even make the news. We only see them later in the statistics... no death certificate says 'heat wave' as the cause of death, even if the heat is actually a key factor in mortality."

Heat waves such as the upcoming European event are becoming more likely and severe as the climate warms in response to human activities.https://ejus.tc/2Zi0GHR

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Samantha Hepburn

In the expansion of its iron ore mine in Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto blasted the Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 — Aboriginal rock shelters dating back 46,000 years. These sites had deep historical and cultural significance.

Read More Show Less
Meadow Lake wind farm in Indiana. Anthony / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tara Lohan

The first official tallies are in: Coronavirus-related shutdowns helped slash daily global emissions of carbon dioxide by 14 percent in April. But the drop won't last, and experts estimate that annual emissions of the greenhouse gas are likely to fall only about 7 percent this year.

Read More Show Less
Andrey Nikitin / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Adrienne Santos-Longhurst

Plants are awesome. They brighten up your space and give you a living thing you can talk to when there are no humans in sight.

Turns out, having enough of the right plants can also add moisture (aka humidify) indoor air, which can have a ton of health benefits.

Read More Show Less
A bald eagle chick inside a nest in Rutland, Massachusetts. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
A bald eagle nest with eggs has been discovered in Cape Cod for the first time in 115 years, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (Mass Wildlife), as Newsweek reported.
Read More Show Less
The office of Rover.com sits empty with employees working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 12 in Seattle, Washington. John Moore / Getty Images

The office may never look the same again. And the investment it will take to protect employees may force many companies to go completely remote. That's after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new recommendations for how workers can return to the office safely.

Read More Show Less
Frederic Edwin Church's The Icebergs reveal their danger as a crush vessel is in the foreground of an iceberg strewn sea, 1860. Buyenlarge / Getty Images

Scientists and art historians are studying art for signs of climate change and to better understand the ways Western culture's relationship to nature has been altered by it, according to the BBC.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Esben Østergaard, co-founder of Lifeline Robotics and Universal Robots, takes a swab in the World's First Automatic Swab Robot, developed with Thiusius Rajeeth Savarimuthu, professor at the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute at The University of Southern Denmark. The University of Southern Denmark

By Richard Connor

The University of Southern Denmark on Wednesday announced that its researchers have developed the world's first fully automatic robot capable of carrying out throat swabs for COVID-19.

Read More Show Less