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Europe has 'by far' warmest winter on record

March 6, 2020

The average temperature in winter was more than 3 degrees warmer than the average in the years between 1980 and 2010. Germany was among the countries that saw an exceptionally mild winter.

Bathers near Germany's Stralsund on New Year's Day
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Sauer

Europe has just experienced "by far" its warmest winter since records began, the European Union climate change observer Copernicus announced on Wednesday.

The average temperature in Europe between December 2019 and February 2020 was 3.4 degrees Celsius warmer than the average temperature between 1981 and 2010, according to the report from the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

The average temperature was also 1.4 degrees Celsius above the warmest winter ever, which was 2015/16.

The temperature in the north and east of the continent was especially high. Despite some extreme storms, Germany was among the countries that experienced an especially warm winter.

There are concerns around agriculture across Europe. It was the first winter ever that German vineyards were largely unable to produce "ice wine," a delicacy made from grapes harvested when they are frozen. A single vintner in the Remstal area of the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg managed to produce roughly 70 liters of ice wine.

Read more: Will warmer weather stop the spread of the coronavirus?

Temperatures rise around the globe

"Considerably above-average temperatures were not confined to Europe, but extended over most of Russia," the climate service wrote on their website.

"Other regions that were quite substantially warmer than average include northwestern Africa, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia, and much of China, with smaller pockets in North and South America, central and southern Africa and Western Australia," they explained.

Read more: Engineering the climate — is it a good idea?

Global warming was not the only culprit, Copernicus director Carlo Buontempo said, explaining that winter temperatures vary significantly from year to year.

"But it is likely that these type of events were made more extreme by the global warming trend," he said.

The EU's official weather service uses information from satellies, ships, planes and weather stations to determine its findings.

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Kommentarbild PROVISORISCH Elliot Douglas
Elliot Douglas Elliot Douglas is a video, audio and online journalist based in Berlin.