1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Europe: Snow in short supply amid winter heat wave

January 7, 2023

Temperature records for January are already being broken across Europe. Experts say climate change is making such extremes considerably more likely.

A thin stripe of snow for skiing amid green fields
Winter sports resorts in Europe are uncharacteristically green for the time of year, as here in AustriaImage: APA/dpa/picture alliance

Weather stations across Europe have been recording all-time-high daily temperatures for the months of December or January, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

Several European countries saw record-breaking heat on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, the WMO reported.

The unseasonable warmth comes on the heels of a very hot summer and a drought of dimensions that have not been seen in centuries.

Impact on snow

Snow has been lacking in many regions that are normally covered in white at this time of year, among other places in the Alps and Pyrenees.

This has an effect not only on winter sports but is also likely to exacerbate drought conditions later in the year, as winter snow in European mountains such as the Alps is an important natural water store.

Experts say this season's lack of snow is a harbinger for the future as human-driven climate change forces global temperatures up.

Humanity has already heated the planet by 1.1 degree Celsius (1.9 F) by burning fossil fuels, destroying land and farming livestock. At today's 1.1 C of warming, heat waves that used to hit once in 50 years have already become five times more likely. If global warming hits 4 C — an unlikely but possible scenario — such heat waves will become 40 times more likely than otherwise.

tj/aw (AP, AFP)