(Madrid) A European country on the front line of the climate crisis, Spain is accumulating heat records and this year once again experienced its hottest January on record.
” It’s official. January was the hottest in the historic series in Spain, which began in 1961, said the spokesperson for the meteorological agency (Aemet), Rubén del Campo, on the social network X on Wednesday.
The average temperature recorded last month in mainland Spain (8.4 degrees) was 2.4 degrees above the usual average and 0.4 degrees above that of 2016, the last record January.
Due to a lack of snow, the start of the ski season was delayed while the beaches were full of bathers, with temperatures around 30 degrees in the east of the country during the last week of January. A heat wave worthy of the start of summer and described as an “anomaly” by Aemet.
In total, nearly 400 weather stations in the country, or almost one in two, had seen temperatures reach or exceed 20°C.
“The Spanish know well that climate change is here, we are clearly facing a high-risk situation,” Agriculture Minister Luis Planas told the press on Wednesday.
Risks further illustrated last week by the declaration of “drought emergency” in Catalonia (north-east) where six million inhabitants, particularly in Barcelona and its outskirts, are subject to new water restrictions.
The level of this region’s reservoirs, which store rainwater for use in drier months, has fallen below 16%. Periods without rain are not atypical in this Mediterranean region, but the current precipitation deficit is unprecedented since records began in 1916.
To the point that the authorities are considering supplying Barcelona with tankers from June, if the situation worsens.
The situation is similar in Andalusia (South), another region of Spain hit hard by drought and which plans to introduce severe restrictions if the rain does not come, notably in Seville and Malaga.
Although accustomed to high temperatures, Spain is faced with increasingly numerous and frequent heat episodes, sometimes outside the summer months, which worry scientists.
The country had already recorded unusually high temperatures in December, with a peak of 29.9°C in Malaga which was a national record for the month of December.
According to Aemet, the frequency of heat episodes has tripled over the past ten years in the country, on the front line of global warming and 75% of the territory at risk of desertification, according to the UN.
The duration of the meteorological summer in the country has increased by ten days per decade since the 1980s.
In 2022, a year also marked by devastating fires, Spain had experienced its hottest year since records began. For the first time, the average annual temperature had exceeded 15°C.
Behind 2022, the two hottest years were 2017 and 2020.
Last year, the meteorological spring, ranging from 1er March to May 31, had been the hottest ever recorded in the country with an average of 14.2 degrees. A record due to a very early heat wave in April when the mercury rose to 38.8 degrees in Córdoba (south), unheard of at this time of year in mainland Spain.