Last summer was Europe’s hottest on record, according to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).
Northern and western Europe were hit with prolonged, intense heat waves. Many countries saw drought and wildfires as temperatures soared and rainfall was low. Crops suffered, rivers dried up and thousands of deaths were caused by the extreme weather.
These warm months contributed to an average that made 2022 Europe’s second warmest year ever, exceeded only by 2020. European temperatures have increased by more than twice the global average over the last 30 years.
Copernicus found that overall, last year was the world’s fifth warmest since at least 1850 with the last eight years being the hottest on record.
The data shows that the planet is now 1.2°C warmer than it was in pre-industrial times due to human-caused climate change, according to C3S.
“2022 was yet another year of climate extremes across Europe and globally,” says Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S.
“These events highlight that we are already experiencing the devastating consequences of our warming world.”
The 2022 Climate Highlights report shows clear evidence that avoiding the worst consequences of climate change will require swift adaptation and urgent reduction of carbon emissions, she adds. \
Where in Europe was 2022 the hottest year on record?
Amid record-breaking months, analysis of average temperatures in some European countries has shown that 2022 was their hottest ever year.
All of Europe, except for Iceland, saw annual temperatures that were above the 1991-2020 average. But western and southern Europe saw some of the highest temperatures last year.
Here are the countries that broke heat records last year.
Record-breaking temperatures become more likely in the UK
At the start of January, experts revealed that 2022 was the UK’s hottest year on record. Average temperatures were over 10°C for the first time ever according to Met Office figures.
“Although an arbitrary number, the UK surpassing an annual average temperature of 10°C is a notable moment in our climatological history,” Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre said.
He added that it comes as no surprise as all 10 of the years with the highest average temperatures have occurred since 2003.
“It is clear from the observational record that human induced global warming is already impacting the UK’s climate.”
And these record-breaking temperatures are likely to become more frequent, according to a study by Met Office scientists.
“The results showed that recording [a] 10°C [average] in a natural climate would occur around once every 500 years, whereas in our current climate, it could be as frequent as once every three to four years,” says Met Office attribution scientist Dr Nikos Christidis.
If the planet warms by 2.7°C by the end of this century – as is projected with current global emissions targets- an average temperature of 10°C could “occur almost every year”, he adds.
France’s temperatures are ‘symptomatic of climate change’
In November, Météo-France declared 2022 the warmest year since records began in 1900. Provisional figures put average temperatures for the year between 14.2-14.6°C, far exceeding the previous record of 14°C set in 2020.
All months of the year except January and April were warmer than usual and average rainfall was 25 per cent lower than normal.
“Punctuated by climate extremes, 2022 is symptomatic of climate change,” France’s national weather service said in a statement.
Ireland sees its 12th consecutive warmest year
Ireland saw a year of hot, dry weather too. Met Éireann said 2022 was provisionally the warmest year since 1900 – breaking records previously set in 1945 and 2007.
The average for the year was 10.8°C marking the 12th consecutive year where temperatures were above normal. 21 of the 22 years this century have been above normal, the country’s weather service said.
Portugal see six heatwaves in a year
The average temperature in Portugal for 2022 was 16.64°C – 1.38°C above the usual value. According to the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere, this breaks records set in 1997 making it the hottest year ever for the country.
Though records for the highest temperature on a single day weren’t broken, Portugal saw six heatwaves from May to October last year. At one point in 2022, nearly all of the country was suffering from ‘severe drought’ conditions.
Spain experiences high temperatures and a lack of rain
Spain also experienced its hottest year on record in 2022. For the first time ever, average yearly temperatures surpassed 15°C, according to Aemet, the country’s national weather service.
Spain saw repeated heatwaves from May to October with some “extremely warm” months, Aemet said in its preliminary report last month. It has left levels in reservoirs low causing Barcelona and parts of Catalonia to impose water restrictions due to a lack of rain.
Switzerland has hottest year since records began
Switzerland’s meteorological service has confirmed the alpine nation’s annual average temperature of 7.4°C was “by far the highest value since measurements began in 1864”.
Unusually warm weather this winter has also left the Alps without their usual blanket of snow causing chaos for ski resorts.
Italy saw record highs all through 2022
Summer droughts reduced water levels in Italy’s main rivers by three-quarters and slashed agricultural production by a third. Record-breaking temperatures led to thousands of deaths while unseasonably warm weather and lack of rainfall caused the deadly collapse of a glacier.
Experts first began reporting that 2022 would be the country’s hottest on record in July. By December, it was statistically impossible for the average temperatures to fall below those of 2018, previously the hottest year.