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Wildfires in Greece 8-7-21

Summer 2021 was Europe’s hottest to date, reaching record-breaking temperatures in the Mediterranean and warmer-than-average areas, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service has said.

A report issued on Tuesday by the EU’s climate monitoring group revealed that this year’s summer was 0.1 degree Celsius hotter than previous record-breaking seasons in 2010 and 2018.

While the difference may only seem marginal, the average surface air temperature from June to August was close to 1.0 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1991-2020 trends, making it the warmest summer on record. Copernicus’ data goes back to the 1950s, but other available records can stretch back as far as the mid-19th century.

The statement also acknowledged contrasting weather conditions across the European continent in August, despite the average temperature being only a fraction higher than normal. The release cited “record-breaking maximum temperatures in Mediterranean countries, warmer-than-average temperatures in the east, and generally below-average temperatures in the north.”

August 2021’s Arctic sea ice extent was also below average, but well above the very low record set in 2012.

The report comes as the same editorial was published in more than 200 health journals, including the British Medical Journal and The Lancet. The missive called for urgent action from world leaders to protect populations against the “catastrophic harm” of rising temperatures ahead of the UN General Assembly in September and November’s climate conference in Glasgow.

Extreme weather conditions rocked Europe this summer. Forest fires ravaged through Turkey, Greece, and Italy. The Italian island of Sicily may have registered Europe’s hottest temperature ever on August 11 – a scorching 48.8C (119.8F). The blazing high, however, is provisional until the World Meteorological Organization verifies it.

At the other end of the spectrum, freak floods devastated Germany in July, claiming almost 200 lives. Neighboring Belgium and the Netherlands were also struck by flooding, causing power and water shortages, and damage to multiple houses.

Copernicus ECMWF Aug2021Temps 

Monthly global-mean and European-mean surface air temperature anomalies relative to 1991-2020, from January 1979 to August 2021. The darker coloured bars denote the August values. Note that for Europe the value for August 2021 is very close to zero, which is why it is not visible in the plot. Data source: ERA5. Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.

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