Under our climate change, the weather in Europe is becoming more extreme. What could this summer bring in terms of heatwaves, droughts, floods and wildfires? The general outlook is as pessimistic as we have seen this past winter and spring. This makes adapting to climate change and being better prepared, according to a European Environment Agency extreme weather product released today, explaining the climate challenges. related to the top weather we face.
With the latest data available, the new EEA web product’‘Severe summer weather in a changing climate: Is Europe prepared?’ dive into the main summer severe weather has increasingly impacted the population, economy and nature of Europe. Users can explore interactive map and chart information on heat waves, floods, droughts and wildfiresand the increase of cdrought-sensitive disease like dengue fever. These summaries of each of these extremes look back at past events, what we can expect in the future according to scientific projections, and how prepared we are to deal with them, including including the presentation of examples and best practices from across Europe.
The purpose of the web product is to provide updated information and data to raise awareness among decision-makers and the public about the urgent need to address climate change and to support the government’s ongoing efforts to put in place climate mitigation measures and build build social preparedness.
Outlook: what can summer bring?
More heat waves, stronger and longer
Heat waves are dangerous to human health — like summer heat wave of 2022 — is becoming more frequent, longer and more intense and will continue to do so under all climate scenarios. IN Southern Europeespecially possible more than 60 summer days during which conditions are dangerous to human health — meaning higher numbers of deaths and hospitalizations, especially among the elderly and sick, unless adaptive measures are taken. Heatwaves are the deadliest extreme weather events in Europe and the increasingly vulnerable European population to aging and urbanization necessitate urgent implementation of measures to prevent loss of life.
More often, severe flooding
heavy rainfall events are predicted to increase across most of Europe, leading to increased morbidity floodespecially in northwest and central Europe. Adaptation measures are needed to protect society from the worst impacts, such as those caused by floods in July 2021 in Germany and Belgium.
People and property continue to be at risk with the continued development of floodplains, often putting more vulnerable residents and facilities such as schools and hospitals at risk. Between 1980 and 2021, flood damage amounted to nearly EUR 258 billion and increased by more than 2% per year on average.
More frequent, more severe droughts
Since 2018, more than half of Europe has been affected by severe drought conditions in both winter and summer. The 2022 drought significantly reduces the yield of crops such as maize, maize, soybean or olive oil. Another dry winter doesn’t bode well for this summer and the outlook is pessimistic. The particularly dry and warm winters mean low snow cover and lead to low soil moisture, low river flows and reduced water storage capacity in reservoirs in most of southern and western Europe.
Long-term climate projections indicate that the south and central regions Europe will get drier and hotter throughout the 21st century with devastating consequences for the agricultural industry. total Economic damage across all drought-related economic sectors is expected to grow by the end of this century from the current 9 billion EUR per year to 25 billion EUR per year at 1.5 degrees Celcius (°C) of global warming, EUR 31 billion per year at 2°C of warming and EUR 45 billion for 3°C warming based on scientific scenarios.
Wildfires spread more widely
Most forest fires in Europe is started by human activities but climatic conditions—dry and hot periods with strong winds—determine their intensity and impact. Forest fires mostly affecting southern Europe, but also increasingly central and even northern Europe. Since 1980, 712 people have died across Europe from the direct effects of wildfires. The 2022 wildfire season is the second worst since 2000, with more than 5,000 square kilometers (twice the size of Luxembourg) burned during the summer months (June, July, August) and a record area. of the affected Natura2000 nature reserves.
Under the high emission climate change scenario, southern europeespecially Iberian Peninsula, the number of days with high fire risk will increase markedly. The number of people living near wasteland and exposed to high to extreme fire hazards for at least 10 days per year will increase from now to 15 million (+24%) under a global warming scenario 3 °C.
Increasing climate-sensitive diseases
Some common European disease carriers (such as Ticks can spread Lyme borreliosis or tick-borne encephalitis), while others are invasive (such as Mosquito also called tiger mosquito can spread dengue fever). A warmer climate means that both endemic and invasive species can spread further north or present at higher altitudes than in the past. Climatic suitability for the tiger mosquito is projected to increase in many parts of Europe, particularly in West Europe which could become a mosquito hotspot by the end of the century.
Malaria could also re-emerge in Europe due to the widespread presence of the Anopheles mosquito that can carry the disease. Increased rainfall and the presence of stagnant water create more habitat for mosquitoes, and warmer temperatures increase the rate of mosquito bites and the growth of the Plasmodium parasite that causes malaria.
What is being done to prepare and adapt?
Preparing our societies for climate change in Europe is driven by the EU’s policy framework (mainly EU strategy on adaptation to climate change and EU climate law) and national policies. All EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Türkiye (EEA member states) have national adaptation policy was in place. The EEA monitors national adaptation planning and implementation using information reported from Member States and other sources.
However, much more can be done to link adaptation policies to sector policy, example of health. Most national adaptation policies and health strategies recognize the effects of heat on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. But less than half protect against the direct effects of heat like dehydration or heatstroke.
There is an urgent need to improve the implementation of adaptation measures such as heat health action planincreasing the number green and green space (trees and water) in cities can lower temperatures and reduce flood risk, or monitor and early warn of climate-sensitive infectious diseases.
Adaptation is urgently needed in agriculture. Farmers can limit the adverse effects of temperature and drought risks by adjusting crop varieties, changing seeding dates, and changing irrigation patterns. Without more adaptation, output and farm income is expected to decrease in the future.
Actual implementation of measures often takes place at the local level, so the commitment of local and regional government to adapt is very important. More than 4,500 cities, towns and municipalities are signatories The Mayors Covenant on Climate and Energycommitted to adaptive action, and more than 300 regions and local governments have signed the Charter of EU Adaptation Mission to Climate Change. This latest EEA tool includes many examples of adaptation measures in place across Europe, taken from the EEA’s Climate portal-ADAPT.
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