Researchers map European climate change (Update)

Mar 07, 2014

The majority of Europe will experience higher warming than the global average if surface temperatures rise to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, according to a new study published today.

Under such a scenario, temperatures greater than the 2 °C global average will be experienced in Northern and Eastern Europe in winter and Southern Europe in summer; however, North-Western Europe—specifically the UK—will experience a lower relative warming.

The study, which has been published today, 7 March, in IOP Publishing's journal Environmental Research Letters, also shows that in the summer, daily maximum temperatures could increase by 3-4 °C over South-Eastern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula and rise well above 40 °C in regions that already experience some of the highest temperatures in Europe, such as Spain, Portugal and France. Such higher temperatures will increase evaporation and drought.

In the winter, the maximum daily temperatures could increase by more than 6 °C across Scandinavia and Russia.

Lead author of the research Robert Vautard, from Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (CEA/CNRS/UVSQ), said: "The 2 °C warming target has mainly been decided among nations as a limit not to exceed in order to avoid possibly dangerous climate change. However, the consequences of such a warming, at the scale of a continent like Europe, have not yet been quantified.

"We find that, even for such an ambitious target as 2 °C, changes in European climate are significant and will lead to significant impacts."

The study also shows that there will be a robust increase in precipitation over Central and Northern Europe in the winter and Northern Europe in the summer, and that most of the continent will experience an increase in instances of extreme precipitation, increasing the flood risks which are already having significant economic consequences.

Southern Europe is an exception, and will experience a general decline in mean precipitation.

To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers used an ensemble of 15 regional climate models to simulate climate changes under an A1B scenario, which represents rapid economic growth and a balanced approach to energy sources.

In addition to and precipitation changes that may occur, the researchers also investigated atmospheric circulation and winds, but found no significant changes.

"Even if the 2 °C goal is achieved, Europe will experience impacts, and these are likely to exacerbate existing climate vulnerability. Further work on identifying key hotspots, potential impacts and advancing carefully planned adaptation is therefore needed," the researchers write in their study.

Explore further: More droughts, heavier rains in warmer Europe, study reports

More information: 'The European climate under a 2 °C global warming' Robert Vautard, Andreas Gobiet, Stefan Sobolowski, Erik Kjellström, Annemiek Stegehuis, Paul Watkiss, Thomas Mendlik, Oskar Landgren, Grigory Nikulin, Claas Teichmann and Daniela Jacob Environ. Res. Lett. 9 034006. iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/9/3/034006/article

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

No warming hiatus for extreme hot temperatures

Feb 26, 2014

Extremely hot temperatures over land have dramatically and unequivocally increased in number and area despite claims that the rise in global average temperatures has slowed over the past 10 to 20 years.

Recommended for you

Could Iceland volcano disrupt air travel?

21 minutes ago

Following further reports of seismic activity around volcanoes in Iceland, scientists from the University's Department of Meteorology provide comment on the likelihood of an eruption - and how any ash plume ...

Thailand totters towards waste crisis

2 hours ago

A blaze at a vast rubbish dump home to six million tonnes of putrefying trash and toxic effluent has kindled fears that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis.

Changing global diets is vital to reducing climate change

19 hours ago

A new study, published today in Nature Climate Change, suggests that – if current trends continue – food production alone will reach, if not exceed, the global targets for total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissi ...

Water police on patrol in drought-scarred Los Angeles

Aug 31, 2014

Los Angeles isn't the world's wettest city at the best of times. But a record drought has triggered extra measures—now including "water police" checking on over-zealous sprinkler users and the like.

User comments : 0