The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Copernicus have published their latest report on the state of the climate in Europe.
Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, Chair of the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, at Imperial College London, said:
“This report highlights that Europe is now feeling the full force of current climate change. It should give new momentum to its efforts to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions and to help poorer countries to develop without growing their dependence on fossil fuels.“
Prof Richard Allan, Professor of Climate Science, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, said:
“It is expected that land warms up faster than the ocean as this great body of water responds more slowly to heating from greenhouse gas increases than the drier land. However the Copernicus report finds that Europe has warmed by half a degree Celsius on average since 1991, more than any other continent, and that is without including the exceptional heat of 2022. As seen this year, the relentless warmth was accompanied by severe heatwaves and wildfires while the warmer, more thirsty atmosphere was able to dry out the ground, induce drought conditions more rapidly, and blow this extra water into storms elsewhere leading to an intensification of rainfall and flooding. The upcoming COP27 in Egypt needs to invigorate more ambitious policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions and set in place improved adaptation measures to limit climate change and its impacts.”
Prof Hannah Cloke, Professor of Hydrology, University of Reading, said:
“This report reminds us that no-one is immune from the dangerous effects of climate change. The report focuses on the evidence from 2021, but Europe has continued to see alarming extremes of weather throughout 2022, including costly and lethal heatwaves and floods.
“In 2021, the floods that ripped through parts of Western Europe did not discriminate as they killed hundreds and caused damage to property costing tens of billions of euros.
“Europe is better placed than many regions to respond and adapt to these risks, but as a developed region that has benefited historically from the riches of fossil fuel exploitation, Europeans also need to play their role in helping the rest of the world adapt to the damage that we have caused to the environment.
“As we approach another round of international discussions on the climate, we must recognise the evidence that is staring us in the face. We need faster action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero, or these types of damaging weather extremes will become a more regular part of people’s lives, and deaths.”
Prof Daniela Schmidt, Cabot Institute and School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, said:
“When global warming is reported, the focus is always on the global average, currently 1.1C. But there are large differences with much of the ocean warming less, land more, and more the further to the poles you go. Our cities on top of this are heat islands, as many of us felt during this hot summer.
“In the UK, this summer’s heatwave resulted in nearly 3000 additional deaths amongst people over 65. Heat and droughts together impacted transport on European rivers, energy generation, our ecosystems and our people. These risks will only increase with every increment of warming and reducing these risks harder the longer we wait.”
Prof Tim Palmer, Royal Society Research Professor at the University of Oxford, said:
In broad-brush terms, we can expect the land surface to warm more and the oceans less, since the oceans can draw down heat through currents, mixing it over deep layers. Hence we can expect the land to warm more than the global average in general.
‘The State of the Climate in Europe’ was published by Copernicus and the WMO at 2pm UK TIME on Wednesday 2 November 2022.
Prof Daniela Schmidt: “no competing interests.”
Prof Tim Palmer: “Not conflict of interests.”
Prof Hannah Cloke’s research has been funded by UKRI NERC, UKRI EPSRC, FCDO, the European Commission, and Copernicus. She is a member of UKRI NERC council and a fellow of ECMWF. She advises the Environment Agency and DEFRA on environmental hazards.
For all other experts, no response to our request for declarations of interest was received.