LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe continues to experience record warmth through the end of the year and into the new year. Environmental activists have called for more urgent action to tackle climate change, a relief for governments struggling with rising natural gas prices.
From Switzerland to Poland to Hungary, temperatures have reached record highs in recent days, with the Hungarian capital Budapest reaching a record high of 18.9 degrees Celsius on New Year’s Day. In France, the temperature on December 30-31 last year was the highest since statistics began, and the temperature in the south-west reached almost 25 degrees Celsius on New Year’s Day. This area is usually busy with ski resorts, but due to the lack of snow, the area becomes deserted.
Germany’s meteorological agency said it had not had a warmer New Year’s Eve since 1881, when records began.
Czech TV reported that some trees in private gardens are already starting to bloom. The Swiss meteorological agency has issued a pollen warning for people with allergies after the hazelnut flowers bloomed.
The temperature at Bilbao Airport in the Basque Country in Spain is 25.1 degrees Celsius. Around the nearby museum, people were seen sunbathing and walking along the Nervion River.
Eusebio Forgueira, 81, who lives in Bilbao, is surprised: “It always rains a lot and it’s very cold here. It’s January. (But now) it feels like summer.”
French traveler Joana Ost said: “It’s great weather for a bike ride, but we know the ground is on fire, so enjoy it while you’re at it.” I feel terrible,” she said.
Scientists have not finished analyzing how climate change specifically affects the recent warm winter. But the fact that this January is warm fits perfectly with the long-term warming trend of human-caused climate change.
“European winters are getting warmer every year as a result of rising global temperatures,” said Freja Bamburgh, climate scientist at the European Union’s weather information agency Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).
Dr Friederike Ott, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, also said: “The record high temperatures across Europe over the New Year are more likely to have been caused by human-caused climate change.”
Robert Botard, director of the Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute in France, said that although the temperature rise peaked between December 30 and January 2, the warm weather itself has been going on for two weeks and is not over yet. He said it was a relatively long-lived meteorological phenomenon.
The French meteorological agency attributed the unusually high temperature to a flood of warm air flowing into Europe from the subtropics.
Ski resorts across the country have been directly affected, with almost no customers due to cancellations. Ski resorts in northern Spain, such as Asturias, Leon and Cantabria, have been closed since the Christmas holiday season due to a lack of snow.
The Jahorina Mountains near Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, which was the venue for the 1984 Winter Olympics, should have been the busiest season for skiers, but there was no snow on the ground and nobody on the lifts. Only one couple was having lunch in a hotel restaurant.
A ski jumping event scheduled for January 7-8 in Zakopane, southern Poland, has been cancelled.
“What we are seeing is exactly what climate scientists warned about 10, 20 years ago and which cannot be stopped anymore,” said Carsten Smid, a climate expert at the environmental group Greenpeace Germany, He called for urgent action to prevent further dramatic warming.
On the other hand, from the point of view of European countries, which have struggled to find alternative sources of energy and keep track of energy prices after Russia cut its energy supply, this unusually warm winter has been a “savior god ” to survive the weather. immediate crisis play.
The energy crisis has led European countries to encourage a faster shift from fossil fuels to clean energy, but the short-term challenge is to find enough natural gas from Russia to make up for the yet-to-be-resolved drop in supply. .
But recently, rising temperatures have reduced demand for heating gas in many countries, leading to lower prices for natural gas. The Netherlands’ nearly one-month TTF contract for natural gas trading fell to 70.25 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) on Monday morning, the lowest since shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
The head of Italy’s energy agency said he expects energy regulatory rates to fall this month if a warm winter continues to push gas prices lower.
(Reporters Matthias Williams and Kate Abnett)