Further impacts are expected in the future, potentially causing high damage costs, according to the latest assessment published by the European Environment Agency today.
The report, ‘Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2012’ finds that higher average temperatures have been observed across Europe as well as decreasing precipitation in southern regions and increasing precipitation in northern Europe.
The Greenland ice sheet, Arctic sea ice and many glaciers across Europe are melting, snow cover has decreased and most permafrost soils have warmed.
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.
Future climate change is expected to add to this vulnerability, as extreme weather events are expected to become more intense and frequent. If European societies do not adapt, damage costs are expected to continue to rise, according to the report.
Some regions will be less able to adapt to climate change than others, in part due to economic disparities across Europe, the report says. The effects of climate change could deepen these inequalities.
Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director said: “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.”
Observed climate change and future projections – some key findings:
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