Cranes return ahead of springtime weather

Thousands of cranes have been spotted returning to Germany for the spring earlier than usual, according to the nature protection association NABU.

Cranes return ahead of springtime weather
Last year's crane departure Photo: DPA

NABU’s Berthold Langenhorst said around 18,000 cranes had been seen in Hesse, on their way up to northern Germany where they will nest.

The first groups are thought to have arrived from Spain and southern France. Generally they start this migration at the end of February, but experts say the sudden change in the weather may have sparked off an earlier departure.

After months of freezing weather, things seem to be thawing out across central Europe, including Germany.

The forecast is for stormy weather across the country on Sunday, after a Saturday of changeable weather, including patches of sunshine.

Temperatures are expected to reach a maximum of six degrees in the north east, and as high as 13 degrees elsewhere.

The start of the new week could see some rain and even snow in the northernmost areas, with stormy and showery weather.

Click here for The Local’s weather forecast.

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Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.