2020 was Europe’s hottest year on record

Europe experienced its hottest year on record last year, while the Arctic suffered a summer of extreme wildfires partly due to low snow cover as climate change impacts intensified, the EU’s observation service said on Thursday cited by Reuters.

Europe's average annual temperature in 2020 was the highest on record and at least 0.4 degrees Celsius above the next five warmest years, all of which took place in the last decade, the Copernicus Earth observation service said. "Temperatures are increasing in all seasons in Europe," said Freja Vamborg, senior scientist at Copernicus.

Copernicus' temperature records go back to 1950. But last year was also Europe's hottest on record when checked against datasets beginning in 1850, it said. It was the hottest winter on record, at 3.4 degrees Celsius above the average European winter temperature seen during 1981-2020. It was also Europe's warmest autumn, while summer heatwaves were not as intense or prolonged as in recent years, despite pockets of record-breaking heat in places including Scandinavia and France.

Globally, Copernicus Earth said 2020 was one of the world’s three hottest years on record, confirming findings released this week by the World Meteorological Organisation. The EU on Wednesday set a target to slash emissions faster this decade, and the US is expected to do the same on Thursday, hiking the pressure on countries including China and India.

Currently, countries’ combined pledges fall far short of the rapid emissions cuts scientists say are needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels and stave off the most severe impacts of climate change.

More on this subject: Climate crisis

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