Table of contents

3.1. Recent and projected climate change in Europe

This section presents selected changes in climatic conditions that are particularly relevant from the perspective of the energy system. Most of the information is drawn from the EEA report Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe (EEA, 2017b) and the underlying indicators. Information on further changes in climate is presented in Section 3.6.

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Figure 3‑1 gives an overview of the projected changes in several climate variables for each of the European regions identified in Section 1.2.2. This table includes climate variables for which projections are available across Europe. It should be noted that not all climate projections have the same robustness. Robustness is generally higher for temperature-related variables than for others, and for annual and seasonal averages compared to rare extreme events.

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The focus of Figure 3‑1 is on the direction of the projected changes (i.e. increase or decrease) rather than their magnitude, which would be difficult to show in an overview figure. The underlying climate change projections are generally based on a high emissions scenario (e.g. RCP8.5), because it generates a clearer climate change signal, compared to natural climate variability. This choice does not imply that such a scenario is considered likely. However, the direction of change in a climate variable would be the same under a lower emissions scenario. Further information on the specific information sources used is provided in Table 3‑1.

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Additional information on past and projected climate change in Europe is available from the Climate Data Store (CDS) of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S)[1] and from the IMPACT2C web atlas[2].

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Figure 3‑1 Projected changes in climate variables across European regions

Sources: The sources for this figure are specified in Table 3‑1.

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Table 3‑1 Information sources for Figure 3‑1

Climate category

Climate indicator

Source

Notes

Ambient temperature

Air temperature

(Jacob et al., 2013; EEA, 2017b, Map 3.4)

Based on projected changes in annual air temperature by the late 21st century under the RCP8.5 scenario from EURO-CORDEX simulations

River temperature

(van Vliet et al., 2013a; EEA, 2017b, section 4.3.5)

Available projections for river temperature do not distinguish between European regions, but river temperature close follows air temperature

Water availability

Annual precipitation

(Jacob et al., 2013; EEA, 2017b, Map 3.8)

Based on projected changes in annual precipitation by the late 21st century under the RCP8.5 scenario from EURO-CORDEX simulations. Reductions in precipitation during summer are projected even for some regions where annual water availability is projected to increase or remain constant.

Annual river flow

(Bisselink et al., 2018, Figure 20)

Based on projected changes in average streamflow by the late 21st century under the RCP8.5 scenario as calculated by the Lisflood model.

Low river flow

(EEA, 2017b, Map 4.12)

[Update reference to PESETA IV once available]

Based on projected changes in the 10-year river water deficit by the late 21st century for the RCP8.5 scenario as calculated by the Lisflood model. The river water deficit is defined as the discharge values below a certain threshold; in this case the 5th percentile of daily river flow in the baseline period was adopted as threshold.

Soil moisture

(Bisselink et al., 2018, Figure 41)

Based on the projected change in root soil moistures stress in summer for a global warming of 2 °C as calculated by the Lisflood model.

Extreme weather events

Heat waves

(Russo et al., 2014; EEA, 2017, Map 3.6)

Based on projections of changes in very extreme heat waves by the late 21st century under the RCP8.5 scenario from an ensemble of global climate models.

Inland floods

(Alfieri et al., 2015; EEA, 2017b, Map 4.8)

[Update reference to PESETA IV once available]

Based on projected changes in peak 100-year river discharge by the late 21st century for the RCP8.5 scenario as calculated by the Lisflood model. Pan-European projections for flash floods are not currently available.

Wind storms

(Donat et al., 2011; EEA, 2017b, Map 3.11)

Based on projections of changes in extreme wind speed by the late 21st century under the SRES A1B scenario from GCM and RCM model ensembles, supplemented by other modelling studies. Uncertainties for this indicator are larger than for other indicators.

Forest fire danger

(EEA, 2017b, Map 4.18; updated based on de Rigo et al., 2017, Figure 8)

Based on projected change in average forest fire danger (Canadian Fire Weather Index) by the late 21st century.

Coastal and marine hazards

Relative sea level

(IPCC, 2013; EEA, 2017b, Maps 4.5 and 4.6)

Based on projected change in relative sea level by the late 21st century for the RCP4.5 scenario based on an ensemble of CMIP5 climate models, complemented by projections in the frequency of coastal flooding events where available.

Storm surges and wave height

(Vousdoukas et al., 2017, Figure 5; EEA, 2017b, section 4.2.2)

Based on projections of the combined effect of storm surges and waves to 100-year extreme sea levels by 2050 for RCP8.5.

Note: Consider moving table to an Annex.

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