Europe Is Warming Up at Twice the Global Average: Report

In 2023, an increase in extreme rainfall led to catastrophic flooding in in Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Norway, and Sweden, while southern Europe suffered widespread drought. On Monday, the European State of the Climate (ESOTC) issued a new report looking back at the past year that found that Europe is warming up at twice the global average, as the frequency and severity of such extreme events are escalating.

The analysis, carried out by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) for the European Commission and compiled by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), offered detailed insight into the alarming weather changes seen across the continent. The 2023 wildfire season saw 5000 square kilometers (the same size as London, Paris, and Berlin combined) burned, per the report; Greece suffered the largest wildfire (from July to August 2023) ever recorded in the European Union, impacting 960 square kilometers.

Parts of southern Europe saw between 60-80 days of “strong heat stress,” while parts of southern and eastern Spain, southwestern France, southeastern Italy, southern Sardinia, Greece and western Türkiye were hit with 10 days of “extreme heat stress.” In contrast, many areas of northern Europe experienced days with “very strong cold stress” in 2023.


“Some of the events of 2023 took the scientific community by surprise because of their intensity, their speed of onset, extent and duration,” said C3S director, Carlo Buontempo.

According to the report, extreme heat has been the leading cause of weather- and climate-related
deaths in Europe since 1970. While an estimate for 2023 is not yet available, heat-related deaths in Europe increased by about 30 percent in the last 20 years. Between 55,000 and 72,000 deaths due to heatwaves were estimated during the summers of 2003, 2010 and 2022, with the effect of heat on
health more pronounced in cities and older adults and outdoor workers especially at risk.