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WEATHER

June was hottest month EVER in Europe and climate change made heatwave ‘five times’ more likely

Last month was the hottest June ever recorded with soaring temperatures worldwide capped off by a record-breaking heatwave across Western Europe, satellite data showed Tuesday.

June was hottest month EVER in Europe and climate change made heatwave 'five times' more likely

Global readings taken by the EU-ran Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) showed European temperatures were around 2C hotter than normal, and globally Earth was 0.1C hotter than the previous June record.

The heatwave last week smashed national records for the hottest single day as scorching weather spread across Europe from the Sahara. It was so intense that temperatures were as much as 10C higher than normal across France, Germany, northern Spain and Italy.

The Copernicus team said it was difficult to attribute the record-breaking month “directly” to climate change, but a separate analysis Tuesday from an international team of scientists said global warming had made the heatwave at least five times more likely. 

Compared to June weather stretching back more than a century, the peak from June 26-28 was four degrees Celsius warmer than an equally rare heatwave would have been in 1900, the World Weather Attribution team told journalists in a briefing.

The role of global warming in the devastating hot spell, which also paralysed neighbouring European countries for nearly a week, is probably much greater, said Friederike Otto, acting director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford

“Models are very good at representing large-scale seasonal changes in temperatures,” she explained.

“On localised scales, climate models tend to underestimate the increase in temperature.”

The findings, presented as a report and to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, focused on metropolitan France and the southern French city of Toulouse, where climate statisticians were coincidentally meeting during the heatwave. 

Based purely on temperature records, extreme scorchers like the one last week are now 100 times more likely than in 1900, said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, a senior researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and co-author of the new report.

“But we are unable to say that this is just because of climate change,” he said.

Air pollution, the “urban heat island” effect, soil moisture, cloud cover and a host of other factors can also affect the intensity of heatwaves.

And models designed to work on a different scale are consistently “biased” such that they underestimate temperature peaks.

France, Italy, Spain and some central European nations all posted all-time temperatures peaks, with dozens of deaths attributed to the week-long heatwave.

The final death toll is likely to be far higher, but will only show up months from now in statistical records as “excess deaths”.

A 2003 heatwave in France claimed at least 15,000 lives, according to government figures.

 

 

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Trains delayed and roads slippery in Sweden despite lower snowfall

Sweden's state-owned rail company SJ cancelled several train services on Tuesday as a result of the snowy weather, while forecasters warned that roads could still be slippery in many regions.

Trains delayed and roads slippery in Sweden despite lower snowfall

SJ is cancelling several regional trains on Tuesday between Stockholm and Uppsala, Stockholm and Västerås, and Gävle and Linköping at the request of the Swedish Transport Administration, which wants to free up space on the tracks. 

At the same time, weather forecaster SMHI warned that, while snowfall would decrease over the day, there would still be a risk of slippery roads in many areas.

“It’s still continuing to snow, but the intensive snowfall we are now warning about will come to an end during the day, starting in the south of the country,” state meteorologist Angelica Lundberg told the TT newswire.  “Over the coming days there may be an increased risk of slipping and this is the case most of all close to the coast.” 

Bengt Olsson, press officer for the Swedish Transport Administration, told SVT that the disruptions seen on Sunday and Monday looked likely to ease off on Tuesday. 

“It’s a bit calmer so far. There’s another type of road surface to day. It’s starting to freeze up a but. There’s a lot of crust from the snow and patches of ice out on the road, so its the risk of skidding that we are trying to deal with today.”

The slippery roads have led to some busses being cancelled, with Dalatrafiken, the bus operator in Dalarna, cancelling several regional bus services. 

Buses parked at the Keolis bus depot in Värtahamnen cruise terminal in Stockholm.
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Stockholm’s transport operator SL suspended the Lindingöbanan Light-railway line on Tuesday morning, and has also reduced some commuter train services. In Söderort, Huddinge and Botkyrka all bus services have been cancelled. 

“The measures taken to prevent skidding aren’t working,” SL’s press spokesperson Andreas Strömberg told SVT. “At Juliaborg in Huddinge six of our buses got stuck, so the traffic controllers decided to cancel all further services so we can get in snow ploughs.

Snow was continuing to fall on Tuesday over much of central Sweden, and SMHI has issued the lowest “yellow” weather warning for Sörmland, Västmanland, Örebro, Dalarna, and the north of Värmland. 

In most places, there is now between 5cm-15cm of snow, with 20cm in some places. 

 
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