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Precipitation extremes in Europe (CLIM 004) - Assessment published Sep 2008

Indicator Assessment Created 18 Jul 2008 Published 08 Sep 2008 Last modified 11 Sep 2012, 04:50 PM
Topics: ,

Update planned for November 2012

 
Contents
 

Indicator definition

  • Changes in the contribution of heavy rainfall to total precipitation 1961-2006
  • Percentage of Europe experiencing moderate drought conditions during the 20th century
  • Simulated land average maximum 5-day total precipitation for different European regions (1860-2100)
  • Simulated land average maximum number of consecutive dry days for different European regions (1860-2100)

Units

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp37-75CC2008_ch5-1to4_Athmosphere_and-_cryosphere.pdf


Key policy question: .

Key messages

  • For Europe as a whole, the intensity of precipitation extremes such as heavy rain events has increased in the past 50 years, even for areas with a decrease in mean precipitation such as central Europe and the Mediterranean.
  • The proportion of Europe experiencing meteorological drought conditions did not change significantly during the 20th century.
  • For Europe as whole, heavy precipitation events are projected to continue to become more frequent.
  • Dry periods are projected to increase in length and frequency, especially in southern Europe.

Changes in the contribution of heavy rainfall to total precipitation 1961-2006

Note: The map shows changes in the contribution of heavy rainfall to total precipitation

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Percentage of Europe experiencing moderate drought conditions during the 20th century

Note: Expressed as standardized precipitation indices (SPI) for time scales of 12 months

Data source:

Lloyd-Hughes, B. and Saunders, M. A., 2002. A drought climatology for Europe. International Journal of Climatology 22: 1571-1592.

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Simulated land average maximum 5-day total precipitation for different European regions (1860-2100)

Note: The 20th century (black), models simulations for IPCC SRES intermediate A1B (orange) and low B1 (green) emission scenarios

Data source:

Sillmann, J. and Roeckner, E., 2008. Indices for extreme events in projections of anthropogenic climate change. Climatic Change 86 (12): 83-104.

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Simulated land average maximum number of consecutive dry days for different European regions (1860-2100)

Note: The 20th century (black), models simulations for IPCC SRES intermediate A1B (orange) and low B1 (green) emission scenarios

Data source:

Sillmann, J. and Roeckner, E., 2008. Indices for extreme events in projections of anthropogenic climate change. Climatic Change 86 (12): 83-104.

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Past trends

The number of extreme precipitation events has increased over most of the European land area, linked to warming and increases of atmospheric water vapour. For Europe as a whole, also the intensity of extreme precipitation such as heavy rain has increased in the past 30 years, even for areas with a decrease in mean precipitation, such as central Europe and the Mediterranean. In particular, the contribution of heavy rain to total precipitation has increased (Figure 1).
The proportion of Europe that has experienced extreme and/or moderate meteorological drought conditions did not change significantly during the 20th century (Figure 2) (Lloyd-Hughes and Saunders, 2002). Some drying trends were observed over central and eastern Europe, and western Russia. Similar, some trends were observed in winter/spring. Summer droughts showed no statistically significant trends in the period 1901-2002 (Robock et al., 2005; van der Schrier et al., 2006).

Projections

For Europe as whole it is likely (66 % probability) that heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent (IPCC, 2007a). In summer, the frequency of wet days is projected to decrease, but the intensity of extreme rain showers may increase. In addition, the frequency of several-day precipitation episodes is projected to increase. Geographically, there is considerable regional differentiation in the projections. Extreme precipitation events are projected to increase by 17 % in northern and 13 % in central Europe during the 21st century, with no changes projected in southern Europe (for the ECHAM 4 climate model, A1B scenario, Figure 3, Sillmann and Roeckner, 2008).
The combination of higher temperatures and reduced mean summer precipitation is expected to enhance the frequency and intensity of droughts across Europe. This can be illustrated, for example, by the projected number of consecutive dry days, defined as days with precipitation below 1 mm (Figure 4). In southern Europe, the maximum number of these days is projected to increase substantially during the 21st century. The longest dry period within a year may be prolonged here by one month at the end of 21st century. In central Europe, prolongation of longest dry period is by one week, and no prolongation is projected for northern Europe. Thus regions in Europe that are now dry are projected to become even more vulnerable.

Data sources

Policy context and targets

Context description

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 aim is to increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems. More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability but a considerable amount of information and research already exists which can be shared better through a proposed Clearing House Mechanism. The White Paper stresses the need to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. A number of Member States have already taken action and several have prepared national adaptation plans. The EU is also developing actions to enhance and finance adaptation in developing countries as part of a new post-2012 global climate agreement expected in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009). For more information see: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/adaptation/index_en.htm

Targets

No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp37-75CC2008_ch5-1to4_Athmosphere_and-_cryosphere.pdf

Methodology for gap filling

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp193-207CC2008_ch8_Data_gaps.pdf

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp193-207CC2008_ch8_Data_gaps.pdf

Data sets uncertainty

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp193-207CC2008_ch8_Data_gaps.pdf

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Generic metadata

Topics:

Climate change Climate change (Primary topic)

Tags:
climate | climate change | droughts | global warming | rain | precipitation
DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CLIM 004
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1860-2098
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Blaz Kurnik

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2008 0.0.0 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

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