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Climate change. Heat stress is affecting more and more people in Europe. Alarming report by WMO and Copernicus C3S

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The number of heat-related deaths is increasing on our continent – warn the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the EU agency Copernicus in a report on the state of the climate in Europe last year. – Europe has experienced another year of rising temperatures and increasing climate extremes – emphasized Elisabeth Hamdouch from Copernicus.

Last year was the hottest year in the world, and as experts emphasize, Europe is the continent where warming is progressing the fastest. Last year, the average temperature was above long-term averages for 11 months, and September was particularly record-breaking.

Data cited in the report show that the average temperature in Europe is currently 2.3 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels. However, on a global scale it is over 1 degree Celsius, slightly below the value specified in the Paris Agreement of 2015, which committed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Heat stress is becoming more common

The report points out that Europe is increasingly struggling with heat so intense that human bodies are increasingly unable to cope with it. Last summer's high temperatures, especially the July heatwave, caused 41 percent of southern Europe to experience severe, very severe or extreme so-called heat stress. This is the body's load, which is measured by taking into account factors such as temperature and air humidity to determine the perceived temperature. It was emphasized that hot weather poses a particular threat to the health of people working outdoors, the elderly and those suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

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Parts of Spain, France, Italy and Greece reported up to ten days of “extreme heat stress”, i.e. a situation where the temperature felt above 46 degrees Celsius.

Last July, parts of Italy recorded seven percent more deaths than usual, it said. Experts attribute this increase to exposure to high air temperatures. According to the report, heat-related deaths have increased by around 30% in Europe over the last 20 years. It was also stated that over 150 people died as a result of storms, floods and fires.

The effects of climate changePAP/Adam Ziemienowicz

Extreme phenomena and huge losses

“Europe has experienced another year of rising temperatures and increasing climate extremes, including heatwaves, wildfires, loss of ice on glaciers and a lack of snowfall,” said Elisabeth Hamdouch of the climate monitoring agency Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).

As recalled, extensive floods in Slovenia affected 1.5 million people, in Greece there was the largest fire in the history of the EU, which covered an area of ​​960 square kilometers, and glaciers in Switzerland lost 10 percent. volume from 2022.

– Hundreds of thousands of people were affected by extreme phenomena, which caused losses estimated at at least tens of billions of euros, said Copernicus director Carlo Bueontempo.

Global warmingPAP/Maciej Zieliński

Main photo source: Oliverouge 3/Shutterstock

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