The Slovenia Times

In Slovenia, 2023 one of the wettest but still hottest year on record

Environment & Nature
Mist sprinklers during a heatwave in Ljubljana. Photo: Bor Slana/STA

Last year was the warmest on record both in Slovenia and at the global level. Marked by heavy floods, 2023 was also Slovenia's third wettest year on record, according to the national Environment Agency.

In terms of temperatures, last year surpassed 2022, the previous hottest year on record in the country, meteorologist Anže Medved told reporters on 24 January. Both the autumn and December of 2023 were the warmest on record.

Last year was the third wettest after 2014 and 1965. Trends in precipitation are not as pronounced as in temperatures with strong deviations in both directions in recent decades. "Last summer was the wettest in history, while the summer of 2022 was the third driest," Medved illustrated.

Gregor Vertačnik of the Environment Agency's climatology department estimates that floods of the same magnitude as those that hit Slovenia in August could happen again but the recurrence period is likely still several decades if not a century. "It is possible that in the next years some other parts of Slovenia will be hit by floods," he said.

Last year Slovenian rivers had on average a third more water than the average of the last 30 years, said hydrologist Andrej Golob, adding that the Savinja River, at the epicentre of the floods, had 70% more water than the 30-year average.

Turning to the future, Medved said that temperatures in Slovenia will continue to rise. Whether the increase will be by one or six degrees Celsius by the end of the century depends on the measures taken, he added.

It is likely that there will be more precipitation in winters and less in summertime, but these forecasts are less reliable than temperature predictions. The rising temperatures will mean less snow and more rain in wintertime, which can increase chances of floods in winter, said Medved. The probability of short-term droughts in summer will likely increase, he added.

"The last year of extremes is a reminder that things have to be taken seriously and that we will have to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions if we want to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement," said Vertačnik.

He listed climate change, the climate phenomenon El Nino, the internal variability of the climate system and the proximity of the peak of the 11-year cycle of solar activity as some of the reasons for the global temperature rises. Sulphur dioxide emissions in maritime transport and the volcanic eruption in the Pacific Ocean in 2022 are also contributing to the increases in temperature, he said.

Environment Ministry State Secretary Uroš Vajgl said that the data show why action is necessary. The ministry is hoping to pass the climate bill as soon as possible and is updating the national energy and climate plan. "We want to set real but ambitious goals for 2030," he said.


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