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Saturday January 28, 2023

Climate change drives Europe towards record fire year

By AFP
July 22, 2022

PARIS: The fires that have torched through Europe are on course to make 2022 a record year for forest loss on the continent, as scientists warn climate change is already contributing to ever fiercer blazes.

Fires in parts of France, Spain and Portugal have already burned more land so far this year than in all of 2021 -- some 517,881 hectares, or the equivalent area of Trinidad and Tobago. "The situation is much worse than expected, even if we were expecting temperature anomalies with our long-term forecasts," Jesus San Miguel, coordinator of the European Union’s EFFIS satellite monitoring service, told AFP.

San Miguel said there could be worse to come, adding that the hallmarks of global heating were all over this year’s fire season. "Ignition is caused by people (but) the heatwave is critical, and clearly linked to climate change," he said.

"The fire season used to be concentrated from July to September. Now we are getting longer seasons and very intense fire. We expect climate change to create higher fire conditions in Europe."

Temperatures have warmed just over 1.1 degrees Celsius since the industrial era, and the United Nations Says Earth is currently on track to warm some 2.7C this century. This additional heat is enough to make the kind of heatwaves that baked Europe this week more likely to occur and to last longer when they do.

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