Twelve European countries broke temperature records in 2022 | Extreme weather

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Twelve European countries broke monthly temperature records in 2022 as the continent recorded its hottest ever summer, new analysis shows.

Of 27 European countries analysed by the Guardian, 12 recorded their highest ever temperature anomaly for at least one month in 2022. In each case, the anomalies were more than 1.9C above the average temperature recorded between 1991 and 2020 for at least one month.

The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) released new data on Tuesday showing Europe recorded its second warmest year on record, and its hottest ever summer.

The highest temperature increases were recorded in late summer, October and December. In Austria, the average across October 2022 was 3.3C warmer than the average October temperature recorded between 1991 and 2020. France and Slovenia also recorded temperature anomalies of 3C or more that month. Croatia and Greece both experienced 3C in December.

Italy was warmer than average for all but two months of the year. It recorded its highest ever monthly temperature anomaly for three different months, in May, October and December. Spain and Portugal broke records for monthly anomalies on three different occasions.

12 European countries had monthly temperature records broken in 2022

Northern and western Europe experienced prolonged and intense heatwaves over the year. Much of the continent endured drought, and summer wildfire emissions were at their highest for 15 years.

Globally, 2022 was the fifth warmest year on record, with the last eight years collectively being the eight warmest on record, according to Copernicus. The average global temperature in 2022 was 1.2C higher than the average across the reference period 1850-1900.

This temperature increase was not uniform across the world. La Niña conditions caused lower temperatures across the Pacific region, meaning that Australia and South America tended to be cooler than average in 2022.

However, temperatures were far higher in the northern hemisphere, especially in the Arctic and Europe. Temperatures are rising twice as fast as the global average in Europe and four times as fast in the Arctic.

Many parts of the world saw temperatures far above average in 2022

Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S, said that while weather patterns and the La Niña effect accounted for many of the lower-temperature blue areas on the maps, it was important to look at the wider trend of warming that the data represented.

On average, global temperatures were 1.2C above the 1850-1900 average in 2022. While cooler than 2021, it marked another warm year and meant that the years 2015 to 2022 were the eight warmest on record.

Global temperatures have risen to record-breaking levels

While every year from 2015 onwards saw average temperatures more than 1C above the reference level, only one year between 1940 and 2014 reached that mark.

C3S said that parts of western Europe, the Middle East, central Asia and China, New Zealand, north-west Africa and the Horn of Africa had their warmest year on record. Temperatures were also more than 2C above the 1991-2020 average in parts of northern central Siberia and along the Antarctic peninsula.

Burgess said that “right now we’re running globally at 1.2C of warming above the pre-industrial average. That means we’re very close to the Paris agreement’s cut-off of 1.5C of warming.

“Every fraction of a degree matters. The warmer the global climate, the more extreme weather events we have. They’re more intense, they’re more frequent, and this has implications not only for people but also for ecosystems, biodiversity and habitats.”

In response to the findings, Hannah Cloke, professor of hydrology at the University of Reading, said: “Annual and monthly average temperature records are continuing to tumble across the world. This is entirely to be expected and fits in well with scientific predictions that have been made for several decades.

“Big monthly increases in average temperature in individual locations show us how we, as individual people, how our wider society and economy, and the natural world, are going to be increasingly impacted by rising temperatures.

“We are beginning to see increasing droughts, heatwaves and floods affecting large regions of the world that are not used to them. The rate of change means we need to adapt our way of life quicker than we ever have before.”

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