Extreme weather in Europe fuels global-warming concerns

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More than 20 people have died in south-eastern Europe as a result of unusually high temperatures and forest fires, intense rains and floods have hit the UK, and a tornado was reported in Poland amid growing concerns about the impacts of climate change.

Intense heat waves have made the headlines over the past week, only days after the Commission adopted a new communication on water scarcity and drought (EURACTIV 18/07/07).

Temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celcius have plagued much of south-eastern Europe, from Croatia to Bulgaria. According to press reports, several elderly people have died of heat-related complications. The Romanian Health Ministry reported 19 such deaths. 

Greece is struggling to contain up to 115 fires that have broken out in recent weeks. Blazes have also been reported in Italy, France, Romania and Bulgaria. 

Lack of water was not a problem in parts of the UK, however, where the Royal Air Force was called on to aid of hundreds of people stranded by heavy rains and flooding. A spokesperson for the UK’s Meteorological Office said “a month’s rain” fell in a single day on 20 July.

In related news, the Commission released its annual crop-yield forecasts on 24 July, citing below-average cereal harvests for 2007.

A combination of excessive rain in the north and heat waves and drought in the south have produced “mixed results”, with Romania (20.1% below average wheat yield) and Bulgaria (40% below average maize yield) among the most severly affected member states.  

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