As the high fire season continues, the temporary balance of burned hectares in Europe It has exceeded 660,000 since January, a record for this time of year since it began collecting satellite data in 2006.
Since January 1, fires have destroyed 662,776 hectares of forests across the European Union, according to data updated Sunday by the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), which has been producing comparable statistics since 2006, thanks to satellite images of the European Copernicus programme. .
The area most affected by the fires was the Iberian Peninsula. in Spainwhich experienced two major heat waves this summer between June and August, 246,278 hectares were burned, mainly in the regions of Galicia, Zamora Castilian Province (Northwest) and Extremadura.
The situation has improved in recent days with lower temperatures.
in PortugalIt took firefighters a week to control a fire in the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, recognized by UNESCO, where 17,000 hectares were burned.
A fire in Serra da Estrela, near Covilha, Portugal. – Photo: AP / Francisco Seco
France had worse years in the 1970s, before the establishment of standardized data at the European level.
But according to these figures, 2022 was the worst in the past 16 years, largely due to two consecutive major fires in the Gironde province near Bordeaux (southwest), where reinforcements from German, Polish and Austrian firefighters were needed.
The situation was equally exceptional in Central Europe. In July, it took firefighters more than ten days to control the largest fire in modern Slovenia’s history, with the help of residents so enthusiastically mobilized that the government had to ask residents to stop donating to firefighters.
A firefighter tries to contain fires in Landeras as wildfires spread in the Girondia region of southwestern France. Photo: Disclosure / Reuters
With no specialized firefighting aircraft, Slovenia had to seek help from Croatia, which sent an aircraft before returning it to put out its fires. For this reason, the Slovenian government is considering the purchase of the first tanker aircraft.
If only the summer period is considered, “2022 is already a record year,” Jesus San Miguel, EFFIS coordinator, explains to AFP. The previous record in Europe dates back to 2017, when 420,913 hectares had been burned by August 13 and 988,087 hectares had been burned in one year.
“I hope we don’t have October as it was back then,” Jesus San Miguel adds, when 400,000 hectares were destroyed across Europe.
The exceptional drought that has plagued Europe, coupled with heat waves, is a devastating equation. So far, these extreme dry conditions have been observed mainly in the Mediterranean, and now “it is happening in Central Europe,” as Jesus San Miguel points out.
In the Czech Republic, for example, a fire destroyed more than a thousand hectares, which is a small area compared to other countries, and yet it is 158 times more important than the average for 2006-2021 in this country.
A firefighter works in front of flames during one of the wildfires that hit Europe in 2022. Photo: Emilio Fraile/Europe Press via AP
In Central Europe, the scorched areas are still small compared to the tens of thousands of hectares destroyed in Spain, Portugal or France.
In addition to the Croatia fires, there were three in Slovenia and five in Austria. Although persistent climate warming across Europe threatens to accentuate this trend.
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