Know Climate Change

Impacts of Climate Change

Impacts in Europe

The warming trend throughout Europe is well established (+0.90 °C for 1901 to 2005). However, the recent trends have been very alarming.

Some impacts of climate change in Europe are as follows.

  • The European heat-wave in 2003 had major impacts on biophysical systems and society (around 35,000 excess deaths were recorded).
  • For the 1977 to 2000 period, trends were higher in central and north-eastern Europe and in mountainous regions, while lower trends were found in the Mediterranean region (IPCC).
  • Temperatures are increasing more in winter than during summer (IPCC, 2007).
  • Summer precipitation is projected to decrease by 30%–45% over the Mediterranean Basin, eastern and central Europe and, to a lesser degree, over northern Europe - even as far north as central Scandinavia.

Projected Future Impacts... Click to know
  • It is projected that by the 2020s, there will be an increase in winter floods in maritime regions and an increase in flash floods throughout Europe. Coastal flooding related to increasing storm conditions (particularly in the north-eastern Atlantic) and sea-level rise will threaten an additional 1.5 million people annually by the 2080s.
  • Warmer, drier conditions will lead to more frequent and prolonged droughts, as well as a longer fire-season and increased fire risk, particularly in the Mediterranean region.
  • A higher frequency of catastrophic fires is also expected in central and eastern Europe.
  • Health risks due to frequent heat waves, especially in southern, central and eastern Europe, flooding and greater exposure to vector- and food-borne diseases are likely to increase.
  • Sea-level rise is likely to cause beaches to cover more and more land area. The loss is estimated as up to 20% of coastal wetlands, thereby affecting the habitat of many species that thrive in that ecosystem.
  • Mountain plant communities face up to a 60% loss of species under high emission scenarios.
  • In the Mediterranean, many temporary aquatic ecosystems are projected to disappear, and permanent ones are projected to shrink and become temporary. A large percentage of the European flora will become vulnerable, endangered or likely to be extinct by the end of this century.
  • Water stress is projected to increase over central and southern Europe. The percentage area under high water stress is likely to increase from 19% today to 35% by the 2070s.

Forest Fires in Greece, 2007
Forest fires in Greece killed many people and destroyed...

Forest fires in Greece killed many people and destroyed over 250,000 hectors of forests and agricultural land, mainly olive groves and vineyards. Forest wildfires are among the most direct and immediate consequences of climate change on these forests. Climate change impacts, such as extended periods of high temperature, extreme meteorological phenomena (heat waves and strong winds), combined with land use changes encourage the increase in frequency, intensity and extent of fires.

The most vulnerable forest ecosystems in Greece are those which are in the limits of their natural spread. The forests of the islands and the coasts, as well as the mountainous forests of Southern Greece, such as Taygetos and Parnonas, constitute some such severely threatened ecosystems. Equally, forests of Northern Greece are also threatened by changing climatic conditions (IUCN, 2007 and WWF, 2007).