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Growing concern over unseasonal warm spell in Europe

Growing concern over unseasonal warm spell in Europe

Warm October weather has seen many flock to the beach -- such as here at Hossegor, southwestern France -- but environmentalists see more evidence of climate change
Warm October weather has seen many flock to the beach — such as here at Hossegor, southwestern France — but environmentalists see more evidence of climate change GAIZKA IROZ AFP

The mercury has been rising well above the norm across vast swathes of Europe, from Spain to as far north as Sweden.

After a summer marked by repeated heatwaves across much of the continent, Europe is experiencing exceptional temperatures even as it heads into the start of autumn — a sign of accelerating climate change.

“The month has not yet ended but we can already say practically without fear of contradiction that it will be the hottest (in Spain) since 1961,” when records began to be collated, said Ruben del Campo of Spain’s meteorological service Aemet.

If extrapolated data from historical reconstructions is taken into account, he added, this past month will have been Spain’s warmest October for fully a century.

“One, two days above 30 degrees is normal” for Spain, said del Campo. “But so many days, no. These are summer temperatures, whereas we are already heading into autumn.”

On Friday morning, the northern resort of San Sebastian saw the temperature hit 30.3 Celsius at 8:30 am (0630 GMT) — well above the seasonal average.

With forest fires declared in recent days in the Basque region, of which San Sebastian is a part, authorities have banned barbecues and fireworks to keep risks to a minimum.

The unseasonal warm spell has brought a new word into the Spanish lexicon — “verono” — an amalgam of verano (summer) and otono (autumn).

And it has left del Campo highlighting a “notable acceleration” in climate change over the past decade, exposing Spain to increasing creeping desertification.

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