Weekend Herald

8 of the 10 hottest years in Europe were in past decade

- Telegraph Group Ltd

Extreme weather events are affecting Europe more frequently as climate change warms the continent, experts agree.

Last year was the hottest in Europe since records began more than 300 years ago, according to Berkeley Earth, a climate science analysis group, and eight of the 10 hottest years have been in the past decade.

The continent’s average temperatur­e is now roughly 2C warmer than it was at the start of the 20th century, an increase that has come with a growth in extreme weather.

Warmer air, for example, holds more water which can lead to extreme downpours.

One recent study by academics at the Institute for Technology in Zurich suggested that between

1981 and 2013, there were 45 per cent more days with heavy rain in Europe than in the previous 30 years.

This has coincided with a sharp rise in severe flooding, which grew more than threefold between the

1980s and the 2000s. Flooding can also come from rising sea levels, particular­ly affecting low-lying areas of Europe.

Globally, sea levels have increased by about 20cm since

1900 but this could rise to 80cm in Europe by the end of the century as ice caps melt, according to the European Environmen­t Agency.

Data show that southern Europe has become drier and hotter, with droughts increasing since the

1950s and drier rivers during summer months.

Forest fires in parts of the continent where they were previously rare have been attributed to the increased heat.

In 2018, more countries had forest fires than ever before, including Sweden, which suffered

the worst fires in its modern history.

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