Europe Just Had Its Warmest Winter on Record

Surface air temperature anomaly for February 2020 relative to 1981-2010.

Surface air temperature anomaly for February 2020 relative to 1981-2010. Credit: C3S

Europe has experienced its warmest winter on record, with temperatures 3.4 degrees Celsius (6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1981-2010 average, according to new data from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). December, January, and February were 1.4 degrees C higher than the previous record, established in the winter of 2015-2016.

“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,” Carlo Buontempo, director of C3S, told The Guardian.

Last month was the continent’s second-hottest February, behind the record set in 1990 of 4.5 degrees C. Temperatures in some places climbed even higher. Helsinki, for example, experienced temperatures 5 degrees C (9 degrees F) above average for two months running this winter. The unusually warm weather resulted in difficulties for reindeer herding in northern Sweden, failure of the ice-wine harvest in Germany, and having to import snow for sporting events in Sweden and Russia, the BBC reported.

Globally, temperatures in February were 0.8 degrees C warmer than the 1981-2010 average. In addition to Europe and most of Russia, other regions that have experienced “substantially warmer” winters than average include northwestern Africa, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and much of China, according to C3S.