Heat waves caused 16,300 deaths in Europe in 2022

The heat waves that whipped Europe Throughout 2022 they caused 16,300 deaths, in a year in which the temperature on this continent was 2.3°C above the pre-industrial average (1850-1900), used as a reference for the Paris Agreement about him climate change.

These are figures from the international Emergency Events database (EM-DAT) collected in a report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Climate Change Service (C3S) of copernicus released this Monday.

“The unprecedented heat stress experienced by Europeans in 2022 was one of the main drivers of excess weather-related deaths in Europe. Unfortunately, this cannot be considered an isolated event or a climate oddity”, according to C3S director Carlo Buontempo.

In this sense, he has warned that the evolution of the climate system shows that these types of events are part of a pattern “that will make extreme thermal stress more frequent and more intense throughout the region.”

According to EM-DAT data, meteorological, hydrological and climate risks -storms, floods, forest fires, landslides and extreme temperatures– A total of 16,365 lives were claimed last year and 156,000 people were directly affected.

67% of the events were related to floods and storms, which accounted for most of the total economic damage, the bill for which amounted to 2.130 million dollars (1.944 million euros at current exchange rates).

Much more serious, in terms of mortality, were the heat waves, which concentrated 99.6% of deaths, according to the report on the State of the Climate in Europe in 2022 by the WMO and C3S, which is summarized in the increase in temperatures, low rainfall, more forest fires and a thaw of unprecedented glaciers.

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The document confirms that Europe has warmed twice the global average since the 1980s, with far-reaching repercussions on the region’s socioeconomic fabric and ecosystems.

In 2022, the temperature of the Old Continent was 2.3°C above the pre-industrial average (1850-1900), used as a reference for the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The second edition of this report coincides with the celebration in Dublin (Ireland) of the sixth European Conference on Adaptation to Climate Change and seeks to provide data tailored to the specific needs of each region so that they can improve their adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Europe recorded its warmest summer in history in 2022 and for countries like Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, UK and Switzerland it was the warmest year in its history.

The European average annual temperature was between the second and fourth highest on record, with an anomaly of 0.79 °C above the average for the period 1991-2020.

Rainfall was below average over much of the continent and 2022 was the fourth consecutive year of drought in the Iberian Peninsula and the third in the mountainous regions of the Alps and Pyrenees.

In Spain, water reserves decreased to 41.9% of their total capacity on July 26, with even lower percentages in some basins.

France recorded the driest January-September season, and the UK and Uccle (Belgium) they experienced the driest January-August period since 1976, with important consequences for agriculture and energy production.

Glaciers in Europe lost an ice volume of about 880 cubic kilometers between 1997 and 2022. The Alps were the most affected, with an average reduction in ice thickness of 34 meters. In 2022, they experienced a new single-year record mass loss.

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The ice cap of greenland lost 5,362 ± 527 gigatons of ice between 1972 and 2021, contributing about 14.9 millimeters to the global average rise in sea level. According to scientific assessments, it continued to lose mass in 2022.

The average temperatures of the sea surface in the whole zone of the North Atlantic they were the warmest ever recorded and large portions of the region’s seas were affected by strong or even “extreme severe” marine heat waves.

The rates of warming of the surface of the oceans, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean, Baltic and Black and Arctic south, were more than three times higher than the world average.


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