Report: Swiss permafrost ‘warmer than ever’

The temperature of Swiss permafrost continued to rise in 2016 as a consequence of what was the warmest year on record across the globe.

Report: Swiss permafrost ‘warmer than ever’
Photo: Reynald Delaloye/Permos
According to a report by Swiss permafrost monitoring service Permos, the temperature of permafrost at a depth of 10-20 metres reached a record high in several parts of the country last year.
That’s despite the fact that surface ground temperatures were around the norm, since the late arrival of snow last winter exposed the ground to the cold air for longer, said the organization.
A permanently frozen part of the ground, permafrost covers around five percent of Swiss territory, typically above 2,500m altitude. It is affected by sunlight and snow cover, particularly the date snow arrives and melts away.
The exceptionally high permafrost temperatures in the Swiss Alps are a consequence of the planet heating up over the past decades, said Permos. 
Since it began monitoring the situation in 2000 the temperature of the deeper permafrost has risen faster than the surface ground temperature, it noted.
In Switzerland, 2016 was one of the ten warmest since records began in 1864, and winter 2015/16 was the second mildest ever. 
That was in line with the global trend, with 2016 named the planet’s hottest year on record by the World Meteorological Organization.
Permos also noted that the movement of glacial rocks continued to gather speed, a trend noted over the past 20 years. These days it isn’t unusual for glaciers to move several metres a year, it said.

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2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.