2015 will be second-hottest year on record in Europe

Summer heat waves fueled drought, forest insect outbreaks

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2015 temperatures across most of Europe were well above the 1981-2010 average. Map courtesy European Regional Climate Centre.

Staff Report

With little snow in the Alps for the start of the winter season, Europeans won’t be surprised to hear that 2015 will enter the climate annals as the second-warmest year on record, just slightly cooler than last year.

Much of eastern Europe was exceptionally warm in 2015, and central Europe baked under a summer heatwave that brought drought conditions to many breadbasket regions, stressing forests and affecting crop yields. In southern Austria, a small forest fire burned in early December.The only region with temperatures below the 1981-2010 average were parts of Ireland, according to the Climate Indicator Bulletin from WMO’s European Regional Climate Centre.

Globally, 2015 remains on track to the hottest year on record, according to WMO’s provisional statement on the status of the climate in 2015. Final figures will be released in early 2016.

The Climate Indicator Bulletin is based on a large number of measurements and gives an overview of the 2015 temperature evolution in Europe. The mean annual temperature in 2015, as an absolute value, was 11.099 degrees Celsius, compared to 11.234 degrees C in 2014 and 11.079 degrees C in 2007.

“Striking are the below-average temperatures in Spain and Portugal in winter, the cooler than usual summer in northern Europe and the persistent coldness in Ireland,” the Bulletin reported.

Spring was particularly warm in Spain, where mid-May saw unseasonably warm temperatures of 40 degrees C. Conditions were exceptionally hot in Spain at the end of June, with 44 degrees C reached in Cordoba and a new Madrid July record.

This heat spread north and east bringing heat waves to central Europe. Paris saw very hot weather with about 40 degrees C; Germany broke an all-time record for hottest day of the year and Switzerland also had its second warmest week ever.

“While record European-wide temperature averages should not be expected for each successive year, or for every part of the European domain, the variability from year-to-year is superimposed on a long-term warming trend,” according to the Bulletin.

The Climate Indicator Bulletin is available here.

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