Coming from Germany I try to keep myself informed about European news and it’s becoming more and more obvious that there is especially one type of news: the weather.
This year Europe has been experienced a fair bit of freak weather, and it looks likely to be continued.
The year started with one of the longest winters experienced so far. With an average of only 100 sun-hours it was simply dark and miserable. It wasn’t necessarily freezing cold the entire winter (Christmas was unusually warm in some parts) but it wasn’t warm either and by Easter, normally a time with comfortable spring temperatures and sun, Germans had to hide their Easter eggs in the snow (easy to hide, difficult to find). All together it was the darkest winter since records began, with snow until the beginning of April (in the previous years April was the month of record breaking heat waves).
With rising temperatures snow turned into rain, although it was rather quiet for about a month, with a similar story to winter: grey and miserable.
In late May a low-pressure system brought very moist and warm air masses to Central Europe and was blocked by a high-pressure system. The rain came with a boom and brought heavy rain for days, as the pressure system couldn’t move on. The ground became saturated, rivers were overflowing, dykes broke and many cities flooded. The 2013 floods even topped the 2002 floods, and it didn’t just affect Germany, but also Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia, and Slovakia.
Just days after the floods, while people were cleaning up, the summer arrived, again with a boom. Hot Saharan air made its way North and brought a sudden temperature rise from cold spring temperatures to over 35°C. That sudden and very humid heatwave didn’t just affect humans, but also the environment, causing so called blow-ups on the roads due to bursting concrete. As a result of the humid hot weather, storms formed once again, bringing Monsoon-like heavy rainfall (70 litres of rain over one square meter), fires due to extreme lightening strikes and even tornadoes.
Now, all that might not sound strange to Australians, but I can tell you that this type of weather is very unusual for Europe, and I never experienced these extremes in the first 20 years I grew up in Germany. It is obvious that climate has changed and that such extreme weather events are occurring more often these days (similar extreme events occurred in 2003).
As Bill McKibben stated in a very well written and recently published article, it is time to act and to stop climate change now! It has been agreed to limit global temperature increases to 2°C. To clarify this target a bit more: So far global temperature has been risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius… do we really want to find out what will happen if global temperature increases another 1.2°C?