The spread of droughts in some Mediterranean countries, the heat wave to northern Germany last week, and the high fuel costs of aircraft needed to fight wildfires have raised concerns about wildfires across Europe this summer. ..
“Many of the continents have been hit by drought,” said Cathelijne Stoof, a professor of environmental science at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, calling the outlook for wildfires “very difficult across Europe.”
Last summer’s fire destroyed more than 4,250 square miles of land in Europe. This is more than four times the area of Luxembourg. About half of the damage was in the European Union.
And, according to experts, wildfires in Europe are not just a problem in the hottest countries of the South.
Catherine Gunper, Climate Change Adaptation Specialist at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said: As with Scandinavian countries, we should expect wildfires to occur more frequently in the future. “
Wildfires across Spain have destroyed tens of thousands of acres of forest, but the recent sharp drop in temperature has helped firefighters contain the flames.
The Spanish problem began with the arrival of the earliest heat wave spring in 20 years.
In many Spanish cities, temperatures as high as those normally recorded in August exceeded 40 degrees Celsius.
Neighboring Portugal also had the warmest May of 90 years, the hottest month in France.
“As a result of climate change, heat waves start earlier and become more frequent and more severe due to the record concentration of greenhouse gases that trap heat,” the World Meteorological Organization said last week.
“What we are witnessing today is a premonition of the future.”
Despite extensive planning, early warning monitoring, and predictive models, wildfire preparation remains a major challenge. The EU is expanding its shared pool of planes and helicopters awaiting this summer to provide cross-border assistance and is expected to partner with more countries outside the block.
“Wildfires are very difficult to predict,” said Malta Albinolo, an OECD policy analyst and climate adaptation and resilience expert.
“We know that the summer of 2022 is predicted by weather forecasts to be particularly warm and dry, even more than in 2020 or 21, which was probably the driest and warmest summer in Europe. There will be many, “she said.
“The risk of wildfires in Europe in the summer can be expected to be very high.”
In Greece, where Europe’s most devastating fire broke out last August, soaring fuel costs have added to the challenges faced by fire departments, which rely heavily on water-drop planes to fight the flames of the mountains, officials said. Says.
Greece will begin using flame-retardant chemicals in water droplets this year, while the EU will send more than 200 firefighters and equipment from France, Germany and four other countries to Greece to stay throughout the summer. ..
The season of wildfires is getting longer.
“The concept of the fire season is now losing its meaning. There are fire seasons all year round,” said Rheida University in the Catalunya region of northeastern Spain, which was hit hard by the summer fire. This is Victor Rescodedios, a professor of forest engineering in Spain.
“The main change we see in climate change is the longer period of the fire season.”
Ms. Gamper and Ms. Albinoro of the OECD point out that some of the worst fires have actually made positive progress, such as the EU’s civil protection mechanism, which promotes rapid cooperation between countries in an emergency.
They argue that European countries are also embracing risk reduction in their plans, rather than simply increasing firefighting resources.