The fire season in Europe has begun earlier than usual as the continental experiences heatwaves sooner and with more intensity than in 2021, which was notable for being a year of catastrophic blazes worldwide.
The first heatwaves of 2022 resulted in fires in Spain and Germany as early as June, when temperatures in parts of each country reached a high of 43C and 39.2C respectively. France has also suffered, experiencing its hottest month on record in May as the thermometer tipped 39C in the Rhône valley.
Overall, Europe as a whole had its second warmest June on record at about 1.6ºC above average temperatures, according to the EU earth observation agency Copernicus.
While wildfires Are not unknown in the Mediterranean region during this time of year, the scale of the events are remarkable with the current burnt area being four times greater than 2006-2021 averages, according to the European Forest Fire Information System.
Dry soils create the conditions for combustion. Most of mainland Europe and the dense forested lands of Sweden and Norway were experiencing low levels of moisture, according to Copernicus.
In northern Italy, the low levels of the Po river and the resulting drought in the economically important Po valley have prompted a state of emergency to be declared because of a lack of water availability.
Dry vegetation, after below average precipitation in winter, also acts as fuel and provides a greater risk of flammability, potentially making the blazes larger and more severe.