Europe saw its hottest summer on record in 2021
Scientists say last summer was the hottest on record in Europe, with temperatures 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the average for the previous three decades.
A report released Friday by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service found that while spring 2021 was cooler than average, the summer months were marked by “severe and long-lasting heat waves” that set numerous new temperature records, including an unprecedented 119.8 degrees measured in Sicily, Italy, in August.
The prolonged high temperatures contributed to wildfires such as those seen in Siberia, Greece and Turkey last year, and experts say they increased the likelihood of heavy rainfall of the kind that led to deadly flooding in Belgium and Germany in July.
Sea surface temperatures last year were higher than at any time since at least 1992 in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and parts of the Baltic Sea, where the mercury rose more than 9 degrees above average during the summer months.
Earth experienced 6th hottest year on record in 2021, but 4th hottest for United States
Last year wasn’t quite as hot as 2020, due in part to a cooling La Niña pattern that persisted through much of 2021.
Annual wind speeds in parts of Western and Central Europe were among the lowest since at least 1979, the Copernicus Climate Change Service said. This led to a reduction in the estimated potential for wind power — one of the main sources of renewable energy that European countries are banking on to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation.
The agency’s findings are based on ground-based weather stations and satellite observations dating back to 1950.
Globally, the report showed that 2021 was ranked between the seventh- and fifth-warmest year on record, depending on the data set used.
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get the day's top news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.