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Heatwave in Europe caused 10% of ice volume in Alps to melt, says report

The data also shows that deaths due to high temperatures have increased by 30% in the last 20 years


The study reveals that the European Alps have melted 10% of their ice volume and that temperatures in Europe have increased, resulting in more deaths due to excessive heat.

In a year already marked by heat waves and meteorological phenomena, a report published by the Copernicus Climate Change Service and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reveals alarming data. Last year alone, the European Alps reduced the volume of mountain ice by 10%. Climate data on the continent also shows that deaths due to excessive heat have increased by 30% in two decades.

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The study published on Monday 22nd takes into consideration the worrying climate changes in Europe to warn of the impacts caused by them. The list of “red flags” includes the absurd increase in temperatures during 2023 in Europe, the melting of glaciers in the Alps and the warming that has caused the Arctic to record the sixth warmest year in history.

Europe has overheated

The increase in the number of heat-related deaths on the European continent is a direct consequence of the impact of global warming in the region. According to the report, 2023 easily ranks in the “Top 3” of warmest years on record in Europe.

Do you know what the hottest place in the world is?  find it out
Do you know what the hottest place in the world is? find it out

For Europeans the worst month was September, a period which marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn there. However, the heat was not only recorded this month. Another 11 of last year’s 12 months scored above average in temperature.

This heat has not only had an impact on land, but also on the high seas. Last year, the average sea surface temperature in Europe reached its highest peak in history. Evidence of this was the worrying and extreme marine heatwave that hit the Atlantic Ocean west of Ireland and around the UK in June 2023.

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With the continent “boiling,” residents have suffered. Last year saw a record number of days with “extreme heat stress.” The report also shows that, over the last 20 years, heat-related deaths have increased by 30% in Europe. The change was observed in 94% of areas monitored by the Copernicus Climate Change Service and the World Meteorological Organization.

Melting of the Alps and the Arctic

Known for having numerous snowy destinations, Europe “snowed” much less than average last year. Parts of Central Europe and the Alps recorded fewer snow days during the winter and spring. The region includes countries such as Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

The Alps saw ice volume reduced by 10%

In 2023 the Alps recorded a worrying loss of ice from glaciers. Together with lower-than-average winter snow accumulation and heavy summer melting due to heat waves, these factors have led to the loss of 10% of glacier volume in the region. The situation was observed between 2022 and 2023.

Following the same impact as the Alps, the Arctic also experienced melting of ice. This is because 2023 was the sixth warmest year ever observed in the region, following an alarming escalation: of the five warmest years recorded for the Arctic lands, all occurred from 2016 onwards.

Because of the warm weather, Arctic sea ice extent was lower than average for much of last year. The peak occurred in September, a month which was also recorded as the warmest in Europe in 2023. At the time the extent was 18% below average.

Swiss Alps

Source: Terra

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