Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
Precipitation plays a vital role in all human-environment systems and sectors, including agriculture, water supply, energy production, tourism and natural ecosystems.
- ENSEMBLES: Climate Change and its Impacts: Summary of research and results from the ENSEMBLES projec van der Linden P., and J.F.B. Mitchell (eds.): ENSEMBLES: Climate Change and its Impacts: Summary of research and results from the ENSEMBLES project. Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter EX1 3PB, UK. 160pp (2009).
- IPCC: Climate Change 2007 Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007. Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.), Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
- Trends in annual precipitation across Europe
- Projected changes in annual and summer precipitation
Policy context and targets
In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on the framework for adaptation policies and measures to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The White Paper stresses the need to improve the knowledge base and to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. The European Commission will be publishing an EU Adaptation Strategy in 2013. A number of Member States have already taken action, and several have prepared national adaptation plans.
The European Commission and the European Environment Agency have developed the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT, http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/) to share knowledge on observed and projected climate change and its impacts on environmental and social systems and on human health; on relevant research; on EU, national and subnational adaptation strategies and plans; and on adaptation case studies.
No targets have been specified.
Related policy documents
Climate-ADAPT: Mainstreaming adaptation in EU sector policies
Overview of EU sector policies in which mainstreaming of adaptation to climate change is ongoing or explored
Climate-ADAPT: National adaptation strategies
Overview of activities of EEA member countries in preparing, developing and implementing adaptation strategies
DG Climate Action: What is the EU doing about climate change?
Activities of the EU regarding climate change (both mitigation and adaptation)
White paper - Adapting to climate change: towards a European framework for action
EU framework for adaptation to climate change, leading to a comprehensive EU adaptation strategy by 2013
Key policy question
What is the trend in precipitation across Europe?
Methodology for indicator calculation
Trends are calculated using a median of pairwise slopes algorithm. Black dots represent high confidence in the sign of the long-term trend in the box (if the 5th to 95th percentile slopes are of the same sign). Boxes which have a thick 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, 350.6 to 1.9 °E and 36.2 to 43.7 °N).
Projections are based on the ENSEMBLES project. They have been obtained from different regional climate models (RCMs) performing at 25 km spatial resolution with boundary conditions from five global climate models (GCMs), all using the IPCC SRES A1B emission scenario.
Methodology for gap filling
- van der Linden and Mitchell (2009): ENSEMBLES: Climate Change and its Impacts Summary of research and results from the ENSEMBLES project.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
Daily precipitation totals are standard meteorological measures that have been recorded systematically since the 1860s. However, despite longevity of the precipitation record in certain areas, the high spatial and temporal variability of precipitation means that the climate change signal cannot be detected with certainty in all European regions. Difficulties for detecting a significant trend can arise from the small sampling area of rain gauges, calibration errors in instrumentation, erroneous measurements during weather conditions such as snow or gales, and from limited sampling of the spatial variability of precipitation, such as in mountainous areas. Therefore, observed and projected precipitation changes should always be considered in the context of interannual variability and the measurement or modelling uncertainty.
Further information on uncertainties is provided in Section 1.7 of the EEA report on Climate change, impacts, and vulnerability in Europe 2012 (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/climate-impacts-and-vulnerability-2012/
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoBlaz Kurnik
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A – What is happening to the environment and to humans?)