There is an unprecedented heatwave in Europe now and wildfire conditions in Europe are getting worse. Fires in France, Spain, and Portugal have already destroyed more territory in 2022 than in all of 2021.
As of the end of July, 517,881 hectares—or the equivalent areas of Trinidad and Tobago—have suffered.
Jesus San Miguel, the coordinator of the European Union’s EFFIS satellite monitoring service, informed AFP in an interview that “The fires are much worse than expected, even if we were expecting temperature anomalies with our long-term forecasts. The fire season used to take place from July to September. Now we are getting longer seasons and very intense fire. We predict climate change to create higher fire conditions in Europe.”
San Miguel mentioned there could be worse to come, adding that the hallmarks of global heating were all over this year’s fire season. “Ignition is caused by people (but) the heatwave is critical, and clearly linked to climate change,” he noted.
EFFIS admitted that Europe could end 2022 with more land burned by area than 2017, for now the worst registered year for wildfires with nearly 1,000,000 hectares destroyed.
EFFIS informed that close to 40,000 hectares of forest in France have been lost due to fire so far in 2022, more than the 30,000 that burned there in 2021.
Spain -- where more than 500 people died during a 10-day heatwave in July -- has seen 190,000 hectares go up in smoke this year, compared with 85,000 in 2021.
In all of 2021, 470,359 hectares of forest were destroyed due to fires in Europe, mainly in Greece and Italy.
Yet these two countries have had a relatively good year in terms of wildfires: Italy has lost 25,000 hectares in comparison with more than 150,000 in 2021 and Greece has lost 7,800 in comparison with 130,000 in preceding year.