Climate Change Impacts On Europe Mapped

13 Feb 2020 by Staff - Water Diplomat

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has released a new compilation of maps reflecting how effects of drought, sea-level rise, forest fires, extreme rain and flooding may affect selected regions in Europe. The maps are based on different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios and climate models that have been projected through the 21st Century.

The "Climate Change Impacts in Europe" report describes increased exposure to climate related hazards as very different from region to region. The report seeks to send the message of the important role of limiting climate change to avert the worst impacts.

Previous EEA assessments indicate that there will be an acceleration in climate change in the coming years, even if global efforts to address greenhouse gas emissions are effective. Available nformation suggests that extreme weather and climate related disruption will become more frequent and intense and that most regions in Europe will be affected by an increase of one or another hazard such as floods, droughts, forest fires and extreme sea level rise.

The impact is widespread affecting urban and rural areas; low-lying cities are most exposed to coastal flooding due to a combination of sea level rise and storm surge.

The impact on ecosystems, economic sectors and human health and well-being make adaptation to sudden and extreme events crucial.

The report argues that adaptation must be tailored to the specific regional and local circumstances.

Specific key issues are highlighted:

  • Droughts: Existing studies project large increases in the frequency, duration and severity of drought in most of Europe over the coming century. The greatest increase in drought conditions is projected for southern Europe, where it will increase competition between water users.
  • Heavy rain and floods: Climate change is projected to lead to a higher intensity of rain, with projections showing an increase of heavy rain in most parts of Europe in autumn and winter by up to 35 % by the end of 21st century in a high emissions scenario.
  • Forest fires: The relative increase in fire danger is projected to be particularly large in western-central Europe, but the absolute fire danger remains highest in southern Europe.
  • Sea-level rise and coastal flooding: Coastal flooding is threatening coastal ecosystems, water resources, settlements, infrastructure and human lives. The severity of such impacts depends on current coastal flood protection, which varies across the various low-lying coastal regions in Europe.
  • This EEA report acknowledges that the impacts of climate change can no longer be avoided. The report, however, suggests that the magnitude of impact can be managed given a global commitment to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, as mandated by the Paris Agreement and planned for under the European Green Deal.