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Europe experienced its hottest winter on record this year, according to scientists from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). 

The average temperature during this past December, January, and February was 1.4 degrees Celsius higher than the previous record set in 2015. Last month was also the second warmest February worldwide. 

Carlo Buontempo, the director of C3S, attributes this increase in temperature to the effects of climate change. 

“Whilst this winter was a truly extreme event in its own right, it is likely that these sorts of events have been made more extreme by the global warming trend,” he told the Guardian. 

Europe’s winter was 3.4 degrees warmer than the overall average between 1981 and 2010.

The extreme heat in Europe this winter made it difficult to herd reindeer in Sweden and participate in sporting events that require snow in Russia. It also led to the failure of the ice wine harvest in Germany.

While Buontempo added that it is not atypical for seasonal temperatures to fluctuate, scientists at C3S anticipate a continued increase in extreme temperatures across the globe, citing Australia’s recent bushfires and extreme heat

Temperatures in Antarctica are also on the rise, having increased to 20.75 degrees in February, surpassing its previous record of 19.8 degrees in 1982.

On a global scale, 2019 was reported as the hottest year on record for the planet’s surface, and the past decade has been the warmest in over 150 years. World ocean temperatures also reached a new record in 2019, showing clear signs that the planet is heating up. 

“Compared to previous winters, this has been unusually warm," Buontempo said. “I see climate having an impact on almost all our activities but when you see these large anomalies then you really understand first hand what this means.”


Defend the Planet

Europe Just Had Its Warmest Winter on Record

By Catherine Caruso