Remember, the mercury rose to 47.4°C on August 14, in Montoro, in the south of Spain, thus beating the absolute national temperature record. A few days earlier, the Sicilians had been even hotter with a temperature of 48.8°C raised, which makes it Inevitably, it was to be expected that this heat wave emerges from the balance sheet on the state of the climate. world in 2021 that publishes this Friday the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), European Earth monitoring system. This is the fifth edition of this report that Copernicus has taken to publishing each spring, on the occasion of Earth Day, always with a detailed focus on Europe.
“The past seven years have been the hottest on record”
An exercise that allows us to grasp the reality of climate change. “The last seven years have been the hottest on record, confirms Copernicus this Friday. 2021 is no exception to the rule, even if, among the last seven years, it ranks “between fifth and seventh place”, specifies Copernicus.
For Europe, in other words, 2021 was mixed. Overall, surface temperatures were only 0.2°C above the 1991-2020 average, “so 2021 is not among the ten warmest years on record. Europe”, points out the report. Spring was notably colder than average. It had however started strongly, at the end of March, with high temperatures for this time of year, before giving way, suddenly, to late episodes of frost which impacted agriculture in several regions of the continent. Especially in France.
A record summer in Europe
As for the summer that followed, it was the hottest on record. “A degree above the average of the last thirty years”, specifies Copernicus who then recalls the heat waves, severe and long (up to three weeks), which affected the Mediterranean rim. Particularly Turkey, Greece and Italy. Drought conditions have resulted in numerous and devastating forest fires. “The total area that went up in smoke, between July and August, in Mediterranean Europe, exceeds 800,000 hectares”, recalls the report. Enough to make it one of the most intense seasons, on the fire front, in thirty years in the region. Another sign of this particularly hot summer, Copernicus also recorded surface temperatures up to 5°C above average in various places in the Baltic Sea.
Particularly vulnerable to climate change, the Arctic is also a region closely monitored by Copernicus. Temperatures in 2021 were colder there than a year earlier, but 2020 had been marked by abnormally high temperatures in the region, it should be noted. All the same, last year, CO2 emissions linked to forest fires in the Arctic, mainly in eastern Siberia, were the fourth largest since being recorded. That’s 2003. Sea ice has also reached its twelfth lowest extent since satellite recordings began in 1979, the report continues. And for the Greenland Sea ice, it was more or less the lowest minimum extent ever recorded.
CO2 and methane concentrations that have continued to rise
In the end, the Earth continued to warm in 2021, even though the year is among the warmest in the last seven years. Copernicus invites us not to have any illusions on this and to take a step back to better realize it. “There is a clear global increase in surface temperatures, both on land and at sea, compared to pre-industrial levels,” the report said. These increased between 1.1 and 1.2°C. Same observation for the sea level, which has increased by 9 cm since 1993, or the ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica. “The latest consolidated data, up to the end of 2020, show that they have continued to lose mass,” recalls Copernicus. And this is not about to change? In 2021, in any case, the global concentrations of CO2 and methane, two powerful greenhouse gases, continued to increase, particularly methane, still reports Copernicus based on its estimates made from these data. satellites.