Over a three-month period in the summer of 2003, Europe experienced exceptionally high temperatures, on average 2.3°C hotter than the long-term average.
The European heat-wave of 2003 caused the death of 35,000 people and damages of $15 billion in the farming, livestock and forestry industry from the effects of drought, heat stress and fire.
“More than 25,000 fires were recorded in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Austria, Finland, Denmark and Ireland. The estimation of forest areas destroyed reached 647,069 hectares. Portugal was the worst hit with 390,146ha burned, destroying around 5.6 % of its forest area. Spain came second with 127,525ha burned. The agricultural area burned reached 44,123ha plus 8,973ha of unoccupied land, and 1,700ha of inhabited areas.”
Source: Stern Review final report – Chapter 5 – Cost of Climate Change in Developed Countries – HM Treasury
Source: Impacts of Summer 2003 Heat Wave in Europe (PDF) – UNEP