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Early heat waves and drought in Europe increase the risk of wildfires

This summer, there are more worries than ever in Europe due to prolonged drought conditions in several Mediterranean nations, a heat wave that reached northern Germany last week, and high fuel prices for planes needed to combat wildfires.

It’s only June, too. Drought has affected a large portion of the continent, according to Cathelijne Stoof, a professor of environmental science at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. She described the outlook for wildfires as ‘extremely tough across Europe.’

More than 11,000 square kilometres (4,250 square miles) of land, or an area more than four times the size of Luxembourg, was scorched by fires last summer. The European Union accounted for around half of the damage.
Furthermore, according to experts, Europe’s wildfires are not just a concern for the hotter, more southern nations.
According to Catherine Gamper, a specialist in climate change adaptation at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, ‘what scientists are warning us is that (fires) are obviously going north and that in the future, we need to expect wildfires to happen more frequently in countries such as the U.K., in countries such as Germany, as well as in Scandinavian countries.’
Tens of thousands of acres of forested land have been burnt by wildfires across Spain, but firefighters are doing their best to contain them thanks to a recent significant drop in temperatures.
Spain’s problems began with the arrival in spring of the earliest heat wave in two decades. In numerous Spanish cities, temperatures exceeded 40 C (104 F), which is the highest temperature often recorded in August.
France saw its hottest May on record, and neighbouring Portugal likewise experienced its warmest May in nine decades
‘As a result of climate change, heat waves are starting earlier and are growing more frequent and more severe due of record concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases,’ the World Meteorological Organization stated last week.
‘What we are seeing now is a glimpse of what is to come.’
Preparation for wildfires continues to be a major difficulty despite significant planning, early-warning surveillance, and prediction algorithms. In order to provide cross-border help, the EU is increasing a shared pool of aircraft on standby this summer and is anticipated to collaborate with other countries outside the bloc.
According to Marta Arbinolo, an OECD policy analyst and expert in climate adaptation and resilience, ‘wildfires are exceedingly difficult to foresee.’

We do know that the summer of 2022 is expected to be very warm and dry, probably even more so than the warmest and driest summers ever recorded in Europe, which were 2020 and 21. ‘We may anticipate that there may be a very significant risk of wildfires in Europe this summer.’

Authorities in Greece, which last August saw some of Europe’s most destructive flames, claim that rising fuel costs have made it more difficult for the fire brigade, which mainly relies on water-dropping planes to battle blazes in the mountainous nation.
While the EU is sending more than 200 firemen and equipment from France, Germany, and four other nations to Greece to remain throughout the summer, Greece will start utilising fire retardant chemicals in water drops this year.
Seasons for wildfires are also extending.
“The idea of a fire season is currently becoming meaningless. Victor Resco de Dios, a professor of forest engineering at Lleida University in northeastern Spain’s Catalonia region, which has been severely affected by summer fires, said: ‘We have the fire season all year round.
The lengthening of fire seasons is the primary change brought on by climate change.
During this season, park closures may be one of the fire prevention measures, top Catalonian government official Laura Vilagra said at a regional conference.


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