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Posted: Nov 26, 2012
Evidence of climate change all over Europe
(Nanowerk News) The latest report on the effects of climate change across Europe has just been published by the European Environment Agency (EEA), with some startling conclusions.
'Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2012' (pdf) claims that climate change is affecting all regions in Europe, with a wide range of impacts on society and the environment. Further impacts are expected in the future - with the potential to cause increased damage costs. These costs are expected to rise if European societies do not adapt, according to the report.
This is just one example from the report: State and Trend of Fire Danger
Across Europe, higher average temperatures have been observed, as has a decrease in rainfall in southern regions, while rainfall has seen an increase in northern Europe. The melting of the Greenland ice sheet has also been accelerating since the 1990s, with exceptional melting recorded in the summer of 2012.
In the Arctic sea, ice extent and volume have been decreasing much faster than previously projected. The record-low sea ice cover was observed in 2007, 2011 and 2012, and can be equated to roughly half the size of the normal minimum extent in the 1980s. Snow cover has also seen a decrease, as the vast majority of glaciers in Europe have been receding, and most permafrost soils have been warming.
In addition, extreme weather events such as heat waves, floods and droughts have caused rising damage costs across Europe in recent years. While more evidence is needed to discern the part played by climate change in this trend, growing human activity in hazard-prone areas has been a key factor. The future of climate change is expected to add to this vulnerability, as extreme weather events are expected to become more intense and frequent.
The impact of climate change has also been observed along the European coast and seas. The overall rise in sea levels globally and across most of Europe's coasts, has been accompanied by an increase in ocean acidification, sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. This has resulted in the earlier seasonal appearance of various marine species and the northward expansion of some fish and plankton species.
Freshwater systems have witnessed a decrease in river flows in southern and eastern Europe during the summer, and an increase in other regions during the winter.
There has also been an increase in the number of flood events reported, in the frequency and intensity of droughts (particularly in southern Europe), and in water temperature in rivers and lakes. This has resulted in the northwards movement of cold-water species and the earlier seasonal appearance of phytoplankton and zooplankton blooms.
The report concluded that some regions will be less able to adapt to this climate change than others: in part, economic disparities across Europe account for this difference. The effects of climate change could deepen these inequalities.
However, ongoing and planned monitoring and research at national and EU level can improve assessments of past and projected impacts of climate change, thereby enhancing the knowledge base for adaptation.
Jacqueline McGlade, EEA executive director, commented: 'Climate change is a reality around the world, and the extent and speed of change is becoming ever more evident. This means that every part of the economy, including households, needs to adapt as well as reduce emissions.'