Climate: Europe warming faster than rest of world (IPCC)

Far from being spared from the impacts of global warming, temperatures in Europe are set to rise more quickly than the global average, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report shows, which details developments by region.

“Climate change is now a ‘code red’ global emergency, and this landmark report sets out the devastating impacts already hitting across Europe, and expected to get much worse,” said Selwin Hart, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Action.

Temperatures will rise around Europe at a rate exceeding global mean temperature changes, the report found. Sea levels will rise in all European areas except the Baltic Sea, at a rate close to, or exceeding, the global average.

The frequency of extreme heat has increased in recent decades and is projected to keep increasing, and glaciers, snow cover and snow seasons will continue to decline.

Ice photo: © Roxanne Desgagnés / Unsplash
© Roxanne Desgagnés / Unsplash

Extreme heat in Europe

Here are the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report’s key conclusions for Europe:

  • The frequency and intensity of hot extremes, including marine heatwaves, have increased in recent decades and are projected to keep increasing regardless of the greenhouse gas emissions scenario. Critical thresholds relevant for ecosystems and humans are projected to be exceeded for global warming of 2°C and higher.
  • The frequency of cold spells and frost days will decrease under all the greenhouse gas emissions scenarios in the IPCC report and all-time horizons, similar to past observations.
  • Observations have a seasonal and regional pattern consistent with the projected increase of precipitation in winter in Northern Europe. A precipitation decrease is projected in summer in the Mediterranean extending to northward regions. Extreme precipitation and pluvial flooding are projected to increase at global warming levels exceeding 1.5°C in all regions except the Mediterranean.
  • Regardless of the level of global warming, relative sea level will rise in all European areas except the Baltic Sea, at a rate close to, or exceeding, global mean sea level. Changes are projected to continue beyond 2100.
  • Extreme sea level events will become more frequent and more intense, leading to more coastal flooding. Shorelines along sandy coasts will retreat throughout the 21st century.
  • Strong declines in glaciers, permafrost, snow cover extent, and snow seasonal duration at high latitudes/altitudes are observed and will continue in a warming world.

Billions of people at risk 

“The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable:  greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement at the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report on August 9.

“Every fraction of a degree counts.  Greenhouse gas concentrations are at record levels.  Extreme weather and climate disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity. That is why this year’s United Nations climate conference in Glasgow is so important,” the UN Chief added.


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