Average global air and ocean temperatures are rising, leading to the melting of snow and ice and rising global mean sea level. Ocean acidification results from higher CO2 concentrations. With unabated greenhouse gas emissions, climate change could lead to an increasing risk of irreversible shifts in the climate system with potentially serious consequences. Temperature rises of more than 1.5–2 °C above pre-industrial levels are likely to cause major societal and environmental disruptions in many regions. The atmospheric CO2 concentration needs to be stabilised at 350–400 parts per million (ppm) in order to have a 50 % chance of limiting global mean temperature increase to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (according to the IPCC in 2007, and confirmed by later scientific insights).
Drawing on the most recent knowledge of climate change impacts in the Alps and experiences across the region, this report analyses the risks that climate change presents to the region's water supply and quality, identifying needs, constraints, opportunities, policy levers and options for adaptation. It extracts policy guidance on adaptation practice and aims to assist regional and local stakeholders in developing robust adaptation strategies. The focus of the report is on water resources and related adaptation, rather than water-related extreme events like floods, avalanches, landslides or mudflows, which are already well covered by existing studies of climate change impacts in the Alps.
The present inventory also constitutes the EU‑15 voluntary submission under the Kyoto Protocol.
Signals is published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) at the start of each year and provides snapshot stories on issues of interest both to the environmental policy debate and the wider public for the upcoming year. The eight stories addressed are not exhaustive but have been selected on the basis of their relevance to the current environmental policy debate in Europe. They address priority issues of climate change, nature and biodiversity, the use of natural resources and health.