Members of the UME battling a forest fire raging in the area of Villanueva de Viver. Photo by UME / AFP / LEHTIKUVA

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Temperatures in Europe have increased in the past few years - the highest of any continent in the world resulting in 15,700 deaths across Europe linked to heatwaves in 2022, according to the World Meteorological Organization report.

Record-breaking heat waves affected Europe during the summer. In some areas, extreme heat was coupled with exceptionally dry conditions.

Excess deaths associated with the heat in Europe exceeded 15,000 in total across Spain, Germany, the UK, France, and Portugal.

The global mean temperature in 2022 was 1.15 (1.02 to 1.28)°C above the 1850-1900 average. The years 2015 to 2022 were the eight warmest in the instrumental record back to 1850. 2022 was the 5th or 6th warmest year. This was despite three consecutive years of a cooling La Nina - such a "triple-dip" La Nina has happened only three times in the past 50 years, said the report.

WMO provides information on rising temperatures, land and marine heatwaves, extreme weather, changing precipitation patterns, and retreating ice and snow.

The State of the Global Climate 2022 shows the planetary scale changes on land, in the ocean and in the atmosphere caused by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. For global temperature, the years 2015-2022 were the eight warmest on record despite the cooling impact of a La Nina event for the past three years. Melting of glaciers and sea level rise - which again reached record levels in 2022 - will continue for up to thousands of years, added the WMO report.

"While greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and the climate continues to change, populations worldwide continue to be gravely impacted by extreme weather and climate events. For example, in 2022, continuous drought in East Africa, record-breaking rainfall in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in China and Europe affected tens of millions, drove food insecurity, boosted mass migration, and cost billions of dollars in loss and damage," said WMO Secretary-General Prof Petteri Taalas.

As the climate continues to change, European people's health is expected to be impacted in many ways, including death and illness from increasingly frequent extreme weather events.

Increases in zoonoses, where diseases are transmitted to humans from animals, are also expected along with food, water and vector-borne diseases, and a rising incidence of mental health disorders.

The deadliest extreme climate events in Europe come in the form of heat waves, particularly in western and southern countries.

The combination of climate change, urbanization and population ageing in the region creates, and will further exacerbate, vulnerability to heat.

The WMO State of the Global Climate report was released ahead of Earth Day 2023. Its key findings echo the message of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for Earth Day.

"We have the tools, the knowledge, and the solutions. But we must pick up the pace. We need accelerated climate action with deeper, faster emissions cuts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We also need massively scaled-up investments in adaptation and resilience, particularly for the most vulnerable countries and communities who have done the least to cause the crisis," said Guterres.

As the warming trend continues, exceptional heat, wildfires, floods and other climate change impacts will affect society, economies and ecosystems, according to a report released Wednesday by WMO.

Rainfall has been below average in five consecutive wet seasons, the longest such sequence in 40 years. As of January 2023, it was estimated that over 20 million people faced acute food insecurity across the region, under the effects of the drought and other shocks.

Record-breaking rain in July and August led to extensive flooding in Pakistan. There were over 1 700 deaths, and 33 million people were affected, while almost 8 million people were displaced. Total damage and economic losses were assessed at USD 30 billion, added the report.

As of 2021, 2.3 billion people faced food insecurity, of which 924 million people faced severe food insecurity. Projections estimated 767.9 million people facing undernourishment in 2021, 9.8 per cent of the global population. Half of these are in Asia and one-third are in Africa.

Climate change is also affecting recurring events in nature, such as when trees blossom, or birds migrate. Climate change has important consequences for ecosystems and the environment. For example, a recent assessment focusing on the unique high-elevation area around the Tibetan Plateau, the largest storehouse of snow and ice outside the Arctic and Antarctic, found that global warming is causing the temperate zone to expand.


Source: ANI