This summer new heat records have been set in several European countries and cities. Germany, UK, France, The Netherlands, Paris and London have seen extraordinary temperatures. Science is clear about the fact that heat waves are becoming more common, more severe and longer-lasting as global warming continues.
But science also shows that those intensifying effects are not linear in time and space. Rather, they are subject to a tipping point – the point at which a series of gradual changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change.
Climate change has now reached the tipping point of a climate crisis. This in turn is fuelling a new normal situation in Europe for forest disturbances like forest fires, bark beetle outbreaks, pine nematode or destructive storms. Two factors characterize this new normal: the geographical expansion of forest disturbances to new areas (for example, forest fires are increasingly affecting central and northern Europe); and the increasing interrelation and mutually intensifying effect between different disturbances – the retrofitting triangle formed by forest fires, bark beetle outbreaks and destructive storms is a good example.
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