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Europe just experienced its second-warmest winter ever

Europe just experienced its second-warmest winter ever

The Alps with very little snow this winter. Photo credit: EPA-EFE / Laurent Gillieron.

By Anders Lorenzen

Scientists from the European Union have announced that this last winter is the second-warmest in Europe on record ever.

Data published by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) shows that the average temperature in Europe from December 2022 to February 2022 was 1.4 degrees C above the 1991-2020 average for the Boreal winter season. This ranks as the joint-second warmest winter on record on the European continent, only exceeded by the winter of 2019-2020.

Winter heatwave

The severe winter heatwave experienced in late December and early January, with record-high winter temperatures that meant that ski resorts from France and Hungary had to close due to a lack of snow, was the first indicator. In early January we also heard that hundreds of temperature records had been broken across the European continent, including that of the Swiss town of Altdorf which recorded an astonishing 19.2C day beating a record which had stood since 1864.

According to the C3S, data temperatures were particularly high in eastern and northern Europe.

Scientists say that the rising global temperatures are linked to the continued burning of fossil fuels.

While the warmer temperature might be a blessing for humans who can cut back on their energy bills, it is hugely challenging for wildlife and agriculture. The spikes in temperatures can cause plants to bloom early or coax animals out of hibernation prematurely leaving them vulnerable to being killed in later cold snaps.

C3S highlighted other current climate-linked weather extremes, such as the Antarctic sea ice which dropped to its lowest level in February for the last 45 years.

C3S Deputy Director Samantha Burgess said: “These low sea ice conditions may have important implications for the stability of Antarctic ice shelves and ultimately for global sea level rise”

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