After record-setting high temperatures across Europe through much of last year, a new report concludes that 2019 was the warmest year on record for the continent.
Last year's record-breaking temperatures were closely followed by 2014, 2015, and 2018. Warmer than average conditions and summer heatwaves largely contributed to hundreds of temperature records that were broken last summer, according to a new European State of the Climate 2019 report published by Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). Additionally, the last two decades have seen 11 of the 12 warmest years in Europe while a long-term analysis shows that increased warming has occurred in the last 40 years. Climate scientists note that the findings show the climate is changing both at the European level and worldwide, which could have long-term implications for human health and the global economy.
“It is now more vital than ever before that everyone has access to this information to help us understand the longer-term implications of climate change and what organizations and individuals can do to reduce its effects,” said C3S director Carlo Buontempo in a statement.
“One exceptional warm year does not constitute a warming trend, but to have detailed information from our operational service, that covers many different aspects of our climate, we are able to connect the dots to learn more about how it is changing.”
Some parts of Europe saw summer temperatures up to 4°C (7.2°F) higher than normal, particularly as heatwaves in June and July across the UK broke eight temperature records. Other nations, such as France and Germany, saw summer droughts that affected vegetation cover and revealed long-lost ancient earthworks. The report authors argue that Europe is close to reaching the upper threshold of standards set forth by the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global average temperatures below 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels with a concerted effort to limit that increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F), particularly as the global mean of the last five years has been shown to be 1.1°C (1.98°F) above the pre-industrial era.
As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, climate change is also altering precipitation patterns. November was one of the wettest on record, raining four times the normal amount in western and southern Europe. The Arctic has also shown to be colder than in recent years – just over 0.9°C higher than average – but the summer heatwave contributed to an estimated record of 217 billion tons of surface ice melt in Greenland.