Global mean sea level (GMSL) has risen by 19 cm from 1901 to 2013 at an average rate of 1.7 mm/year. There has been significant decadal variation of the rate of increase but an acceleration is detectable over this period. The rate of sea level rise over the last two decades, when satellite measurements have been available, is higher at 3.2 mm/year.
Most coastal regions in Europe have experienced an increase in absolute sea level as well as in sea level relative to land, but there is significant regional variation.
Extreme high coastal water levels have increased at many locations around the European coastline. This increase appears to be predominantly due to increases in mean local sea level at most locations rather than to changes in storm activity.
GMSL rise during the 21st century will very likely occur at a higher rate than during 1971–2010. Process-based models project a rise in 2081–2100, compared to 1986–2005, that is likely to be in the range 0.26–0.54 m for a low emissions scenario (RCP2.6) and 0.45–0.81 m for a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5). Projections of GMSL rise from semi-empirical models are up to twice as large as from process-based models, but there is low confidence in their projections.
Available process-based models indicate GMSL rise by 2300 to be less than 1 m for greenhouse gas concentrations that peak and decline and do not exceed 500 ppm CO2-equivalent but 1 m to more than 3 m for concentrations above 700 ppm CO2-equivalent. However, these models are likely to systematically underestimate the sea level contribution from Antarctica. The multi-millennial sea level commitment is estimated at 1–3 m GMSL rise per degree of warming.
The rise in sea level relative to land at European coasts is projected to be similar to the global average, with the exception of the northern Baltic Sea and the northern Atlantic coast, which are experiencing considerable land rise as a consequence of post-glacial rebound.
Projected increases in extreme high coastal water levels in Europe will likely be dominated by increases in local relative mean sea level, with changes in the meteorologically-driven surge component being less important at most locations.
This map shows the multiplication factor (shown at tide gauge locations by colored dots), by which the frequency of flooding events of a given height is projected to increase between 2010 and 2100 as a result of regional sea level rise under the RCP4.5 scenario.
River and coastal flooding affect millions of people in Europe each year. They affect human health through drowning, heart attacks, injuries, infections, exposure to chemical hazards, psychosocial consequences as well as disruption of services, including health services.
Observed increases in heavy precipitation and extreme coastal high-water events have led to more river and coastal flooding in many European regions.
Increases in health risks associated with coastal and river flooding are projected in many regions of Europe due to projected increases in sea level and in extreme precipitation events.
Aggregated data reported by companies on the import, export,
production, destruction and feedstock and process agent use
of ozone-depleting substances in the European Union.
Chemicals which damage the ozone layer continue to be phased out in the European Union, according to the latest data from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
When taken as a single variable, population density, transport infrastructure, soil types, land use and terrain characteristics, might tell only a part of the story. What links them together and allows us to get a better understanding of what is happening where? How does spatial data help improve Europe's environmental policies? We asked these questions to Stefan Jensen, who leads a group working on implementing the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) – with a focus on spatial reference data – at the European Environment Agency.
Europe selected its new policy makers. They will need to address not only today’s challenges but also set in motion policies that will affect Europeans well beyond their five-year mandate. What do they need to do today to make sure that Europeans live well in the future? By taking action at the EU level and tackling environment and climate issues, EU policy makers can actually revive the economy and guarantee our long-term well-being.
The length of the wet period has significantly increased in north-eastern Europe and decreased in south-western Europe. Changes in other regions are not statistically significant.
Data availability is insufficient for assessing trends of extreme daily precipitation across Europe. However, available studies generally point to a trend over recent decades towards more heavy precipitation, in particular in central and eastern Europe in winter.
No significant changes in the annually averaged duration of dry spells have been observed across Europe. However, increasing summer dryness has been observed in central and southern Europe since the 1950s.
Heavy precipitation events are likely to increase in most parts of Europe, especially in central and eastern Europe in winter.
The length of dry spells is projected to increase significantly in southern and central Europe, in particular in summer, and to decrease in northern Europe.
Projected changes in the length of dry spell (in days) from 1971-2000 to 2071–2100 for the RCP8.5 scenario based on the ensemble mean of different regional climate models (RCMs) nested in different general circulation models (GCMs).
Projected changes in heavy precipitation (in %) in winter and summer from 1971-2000 to 2071–2100 for the RCP8.5 scenario based on the ensemble mean of different regional climate models (RCMs) nested in different general circulation models (GCMs).
Black dots show trends that are statistically significant (at the 5% level). Boxes with an outline contain at least three stations. Area averaged annual time series of percentage changes and trend lines are shown below each map for one area in northern Europe (blue line, 5.6 to 16.9 °E and 56.2 to 66.2 °N) and one in south-western Europe (red line, 9.4 °W to 1.9 °E and 36.2 to 43.7 °N).
Our well-being depends on using natural resources. We extract resources, and transform them into food, buildings, furniture, electronic devices, clothes, etc. Yet, our exploitation of resources outpaces the environment’s ability to regenerate them and provide for us. How can we ensure the long-term well-being of our society? Greening our economy can certainly help.
More than three quarters of Europeans live in urban areas. What urban residents produce, buy, eat, and throw away, the way they move around and where they live all have an impact on the environment. At the same time, the way a city is built also affects the way its residents live. We asked Roland Zinkernagel from the City of Malmö in Sweden about concrete actions to make their city sustainable.
Heat waves and extreme cold spells are associated with decreases in general population well-being and with increases in mortality and morbidity, especially in vulnerable population groups. Temperature thresholds for health impacts differ according to the region and season.
The number of heat extremes has substantially increased across Europe in recent decades. Heat waves have caused tens of thousands of premature deaths in Europe over the last decade.
Length, frequency and intensity of heat waves are virtually certain to increase in the future. This increase will lead to a substantial increase in mortality over the next decades, especially in vulnerable population groups, unless adaptation measures are taken.
Cold-related mortality is projected to decrease due to better social, economic and housing conditions in many countries in Europe. However, recent studies have questioned whether the projected warming would lead to a further decrease in cold-related mortality.
The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) is a web-based register established by Regulation (EC) No 166/2006 which implements the UNECE PRTR Protocol, signed in May 2003 in Kiev.
The Natura 2000 barometer gives an evaluation on the progress made in establishing the Natura 2000 network, both under the Birds and the Habitats Directives. It is based on information on number of sites and areas covered, as indicated by Member States and is published in the Natura 2000 Newsletter. The current Natura 2000 barometer is based on the national data that have been officially transmitted by Member States until December 2013.
In the air quality directive (2008/EC/50), the EU has set a limit value for benzene (C6H6) for the protection of human health: the annual mean value may not exceed 5 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3). The limit value comes into effect for data measured from 1 January 2010. During 2009 a margin of tolerance was in place so the annual mean should not exceed 6 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3).
In the air quality directive (2008/EC/50) the EU has set two limit values for sulphur dioxide (SO2) for the protection of human health: the SO2 hourly mean value may not exceed 350 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) more than 24 times in a year and the SO2 daily mean value may not exceed 125 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) more than 3 times in a year.
Today, Elisabeth Freytag-Rigler succeeds Karsten Sach as Chair of the European Environment Agency (EEA) Management Board.