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Mean precipitation (CLIM 002) - Assessment published Aug 2014

Indicator Assessment Created 08 Jul 2014 Published 06 Aug 2014 Last modified 06 Aug 2014, 02:27 PM
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Generic metadata


Climate change Climate change (Primary topic)

Water Water

scenarios | climate change | climate | precipitation | rain
DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CLIM 002
Temporal coverage:
1960-2014, 2071-2100
Geographic coverage:
Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, EU27, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo (UNSCR 1244/99), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (FYR), Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom

Key policy question: What is the trend in precipitation across Europe?

Key messages

  • Precipitation trends since 1960 show an increase by up to 70 mm per decade in north-eastern and north-western Europe, in particular in winter, and a decrease by up to 90 mm per decade in some parts of southern Europe, in particular in summer.
  • Projected changes in precipitation vary substantially across regions and seasons. Annual precipitation is generally projected to increase in northern Europe and to decrease in southern Europe. Projected decrease is the strongest in southern Europe in summer.

Trends in annual precipitation across Europe

Note: The 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).

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Projected change in annual and summer precipitation

Note: Projected changes in annual (left) and summer (right) precipitation (%) in the period 2071-2100 compared to the baseline period 1971-2000 for the forcing scenario RCP 8.5. Model simulations are based on the multi-model ensemble average of RCM simulations from the EURO-CORDEX initiative.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Past trends

Annual precipitation averaged across Europe shows no significant changes since 1960 (according to the E-OBS dataset (Haylock, 2008), which is based on the European Climate Assessment dataset (Klock, 2009). However, significant changes have been observed at the sub-continental scale. The majority of Scandinavia and the Baltic States have observed an increase in annual precipitation of greater than 17 mm per decade, with an increase of up to 70 mm per decade in western Norway, with the increase strongest in winter. In contrast, annual precipitation has decreased by up to 90 mm per decade in the Iberian Peninsula, in particular in central Portugal. While there is some evidence linking land use, in particular forest cover, to local and regional precipitation patterns (Millan, 2008), it is not clear if the relatively minor land-use changes in the last 60 years have influenced observed precipitation trends.


Seasonal mean precipitation values and inter-annual variability is better reproduced by an ensemble of RCMs than by any single RCM. Recent work, building on the EURO-CORDEX initiative, has shown that RCMs have a reasonably strong consensus across Europe in projecting changes in seasonal average precipitation.

The ensemble mean projects a statistically significant increase in large parts of central Europe and northern Europe of up to about 30 % and a decrease (up to 40 %) in southern Europe between 2071-2100 and 1971-2000 (Fig. 2 left) (Jacob et al., 2013). During summer the zone in which precipitation decreases shifts northwards (Fig. 2 right). The pattern of the changes is very similar for RCP4.5, but for RCP4.5 the magnitude of the change is smaller.


Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Blaz Kurnik


EEA Management Plan

2014 1.4.1 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 4 years in October-December (Q4)


European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100