Mediterranean countries struggled in July with extreme heat and devastating fires intensified by strong winds. Most fires broke out in Italy, Greece and Spain. The fire also raged in Portugal, France and Croatia. According to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), since the beginning of 2023, 7081 forest fires have broken out in Greece and a total of 7081 have burned there. ca. 550,000. acres of land. July has officially been recognized as the warmest month on record for temperature measurements and is likely to be the hottest month in 120,000 years. years.
Fire versus extreme temperatures
Rising global temperatures and a greater frequency of extreme weather events have already led to a sharp increase in the number and intensity of forest fires, which are rapidly consuming vast tracts of vegetation. By July 22 of this year, the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) reported that more than 182,600. hectares land across the EU has already been turned to ashes. That’s more than 40% above the average from 2003 to 2022. (128,225 hectares).
Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey or Switzerland – these countries were consumed by forest fires in July, as much of the European continent was gripped by a heat wave. Strong winds and temperatures above 40°C fueled the fire, which swept through forests, farms and factories, posing a serious threat not only to the environment but also to human settlements. Heat waves have also hit the United States and Asia, causing casualties and massive environmental and economic damage. Scientists warn that the fire phenomenon will be an increasing threat as global warming continues.
From July 1 to August 1 of this year, more than 1,500 fires broke out in Greece. The fire caused the most damage in the following places: Corfu, Aigio, Dervenochoria, Attika/Kouvaras, Karystos, Nea Anchialos and the island of Rhodes, which suffered the most (burned there 176,500. acres). Extreme heat and low rainfall have made Greece, which has a lot of dry and flammable vegetation (especially varieties of eucalyptus and pine), extremely vulnerable to the risk of wildfires.
The effects of burned forests go beyond ecological destruction and air pollution. They lead to significant economic losses for businesses and the agricultural sector. In addition, environmentalists are increasingly concerned about biodiversity loss, stressing the urgent need for conservation measures to preserve Europe’s fragile ecosystems. State authorities are stepping up efforts to improve forest fire management, prevention strategies and cross-border cooperation to protect the environment and ensure the safety of vulnerable communities.
July 2023. the hottest month in Earth’s history. Europe at risk of wildfires
This year’s July has brought unprecedentedly high temperatures around the world, causing heat waves, droughts and fires. The month began by breaking the daily record for the global average air temperature near the Earth’s surface for four days in a row. According to data from ERA5 (the EU-funded Copernicus Climate Change Service – C3S), this temperature (averaged over the first 23 days) was 16.95°C. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on August 8 this year confirmed that the July 2023. was the warmest month ever measured and perhaps the hottest month in at least 120,000 years.
In the first and third weeks of July, the global average temperature was 1.5°C higher than the pre-industrial average (set as the benchmark for climate change in the 2015 Paris Agreement). According to Copernicus Climate Change Service, the warmest day was July 6, when the global average temperature reached 17.08°C, surpassing the record set in August 2016.
C3S Deputy Director Samantha Burgess said that 2023 “is now the third warmest year on record.” She further added that “these records have dire consequences both for people and for a planet exposed to increasingly frequent and intense extreme events.” High temperatures limit the amount of precipitation, which further encourages the fires raging across the Old Continent. More years are expected to increase the already high fire danger.
C3S warns that warming is expected to intensify in the coming months as the El Niño weather phenomenon amplifies the effects of man-made climate change. For more on climate change, desertification and drought, read the article “Climate Change and Drought.”
Global warming turns into a global boiling point
When temperatures reached 48.2 degrees Celsius on July 24, the Italian island of Sardinia recorded a heat record for southern Europe. In Figueres, Spain, a few days earlier, thermometers indicated 45.3°C – the highest temperature ever experienced in the Catalonia region. July this year was the warmest month in Greece in 14 years, with 45°C in the shade recorded.
As global warming intensifies, heat waves have swept three continents in the northern hemisphere simultaneously this summer. The Mediterranean region has long been classified by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as an outbreak of climate change. “The record temperatures are part of a trend of drastic increases in global temperatures. Anthropogenic emissions are ultimately the main driver of rising temperatures.” – explains Carlo Buontempo, director of C3S.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) predicts with almost 100 percent probability that at least one of the next five years will be the warmest on record. In at least one year, the temperature will also exceed the pre-industrial average by 1.5% (the WMO estimates the probability of this scenario at 66%). He also warns that we will be increasingly affected by extreme weather events.
“The extreme weather that affected many millions of people in July is unfortunately a brutal consequence of climate change and a foretaste of the future,” said Petteri Taalas, WMO secretary general. “The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is more urgent than ever. Climate action is not a luxury, but a necessity,” he added.
“Behold, the era of global warming is over, and the era of global boiling has arrived. Climate change is here. She is terrifying. And this is just the beginning,” said Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General.