Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
Wind storms are atmospheric disturbances that are defined by strong sustained wind. They can range from relatively small and localised events to large features covering a substantial part of the continent. Large storms in Europe are extra-tropical cyclones; they develop from low-pressure weather systems that capture their energy from the temperature contrast between the sub-tropical and polar air masses that meet in the Atlantic Ocean. In northern and north-western Europe, severe cyclones can occur all year. In central Europe, severe cyclones occur mainly between November and February, but weaker cyclones can also occur in other seasons.
Wind storms can lead to structural damage, flooding and storm surges, which may be caused either by the wind itself, in particular short gusts, or by accompanying heavy precipitation. These events can have large impacts on human health and on vulnerable systems, such as forests, as well as transport and energy infrastructures. According to Munich RE’s natural catastrophe loss database (NatCatSERVICE), storms were the costliest natural hazard (in terms of insured losses) in Europe between 1980 and 2013; they ranked fourth in terms of the number of human casualties (see Section 5.1). The European regions most strongly affected were north-western, western and northern Europe, in particular regions close to the coast.
Studies of storm activity have increased in recent years as a result of improved observational datasets, the development of algorithms for the identification and quantification of these phenomena, and improved understanding of the causation of extreme weather events. In addition, high-resolution GCM simulations for both present-day climate and climate change scenarios are increasingly becoming available. Nevertheless, there are still considerable uncertainties in the historical records and in our understanding of the processes influencing current storm activity and how these may be affected by climate change.
- IPCC, 2013. Climate Change: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T. F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S. K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P. M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
- Reanalysis suggests long-term upward trend in European storminess since 1871. Donat, M. G., Renggli, D., Wild, S., Alexander, L. V., Leckebusch, G. C. and Ulbrich, U., 2011, 'Reanalysis suggests long-term upward trend in European storminess since 1871',Geophysical Research Letters38, L14703 (DOI: 10.1029/2011GL047995).
- Future changes in European winter storm losses and extreme wind speeds inferred from GCM and RCM multi-model simulations. Donat, M. G., Leckebusch, G. C., Wild, S. and Ulbrich, U., 2011, 'Future changes in European winter storm losses and extreme wind speeds inferred from GCM and RCM multi-model simulations',Natural Hazards and Earth System Science11(5), 1351–1370 (DOI: 10.5194/nhess-11-1351-2011).
- Projected changes in extreme wind speed (98th percentile of daily maximum wind speed) based on GCM and RCM ensemble
Policy context and targets
In April 2013 the European Commission presented the EU Adaptation Strategy Package (http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/adaptation/what/documentation_en.htm). This package consists of the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change /* COM/2013/0216 final */ and a number of supporting documents. One of the objectives of the EU Adaptation Strategy is Better informed decision-making, which should occur through Bridging the knowledge gap and Further developing Climate-ADAPT as the ‘one-stop shop’ for adaptation information in Europe. Further objectives include Promoting action by Member States and Climate-proofing EU action: promoting adaptation in key vulnerable sectors. Many EU Member States have already taken action, such as by adopting national adaptation strategies, and several have also prepared action plans on climate change adaptation.
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.
In September 2016, the EC presented an indicative roadmap for the evaluation of the EU Adaptation Strategy by 2018.
In November 2013, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted the 7th EU Environment Action Programme (7th EAP) to 2020, ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. The 7th EAP is intended to help guide EU action on environment and climate change up to and beyond 2020. It highlights that ‘Action to mitigate and adapt to climate change will increase the resilience of the Union’s economy and society, while stimulating innovation and protecting the Union’s natural resources.’ Consequently, several priority objectives of the 7th EAP refer to climate change adaptation.
No targets have been specified.
Related policy documents
7th Environment Action Programme
DECISION No 1386/2013/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. In November 2013, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted the 7 th EU Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. This programme is intended to help guide EU action on the environment and climate change up to and beyond 2020 based on the following vision: ‘In 2050, we live well, within the planet’s ecological limits. Our prosperity and healthy environment stem from an innovative, circular economy where nothing is wasted and where natural resources are managed sustainably, and biodiversity is protected, valued and restored in ways that enhance our society’s resilience. Our low-carbon growth has long been decoupled from resource use, setting the pace for a safe and sustainable global society.’
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 CLIMA: Adaptation to climate change
Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise. It has been shown that well planned, early adaptation action saves money and lives in the future. This web portal provides information on all adaptation activities of the European Commission.
EU Adaptation Strategy Package
In April 2013, the European Commission adopted an EU strategy on adaptation to climate change, which has been welcomed by the EU Member States. The strategy aims to make Europe more climate-resilient. By taking a coherent approach and providing for improved coordination, it enhances the preparedness and capacity of all governance levels to respond to the impacts of climate change.
Key policy question
What is the trend in extreme wind speeds across Europe?
Methodology for indicator calculation
Ensemble mean of changes in extreme wind speed (defined as the 98th percentile of daily maximum wind speed) for A1B (2071–2100) relative to 1961–2000. Statistical significance above 0.95 is shown by black dots.
Methodology for gap filling
To accurately assess trends in extreme winds at local scales, high-resolution datasets are required. These climatological datasets are compiled from the observation networks from countries and additional data from regional observations networks. As some countries do not share all of their datasets, the spatial and temporal coverage of the European dataset, and consequently the accuracy of past trends, varies across Europe.
However, even where sufficient data are available, several problems can limit their use for analysis. These problems are mainly connected with 1) limitations of distributing data in high spatial and temporal resolution by many countries, 2) unavailability of data in easy-to-use digital format, and lack of data homogeneity.
- Donat et al. (2011): Future changes in European winter storm losses and extreme wind speeds inferred from GCM and RCM multi-model simulations. Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 1351-1370, 2011. (doi:10.5194/nhess-11-1351-2011)
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
Data sources in latest figures
See under "Methodology".
Data sets uncertainty
A dense network of stations across the globe, and particularly in Europe, now provide regular monitoring of key atmospheric climate variables, using standardised measurements, quality control and homogeneity procedures at European level. However, even where sufficient data are available, several problems can limit their use for analysis. These problems are mainly connected with 1) limitations of distributing data in high spatial and temporal resolution by many countries, 2) unavailability of data in easy-to-use digital format, and lack of data homogeneity. The situation in Europe is improving since several EU-funded projects (such as ECA&D and EURO4M) have started to collect, digitalise and homogenise additional time series of the essential climate variables. In addition, EUMETNET initiated an optional programme, EUMETGRID , which aims to develop and maintain a sustainable common data infrastructure for access to and distribution of gridded climate information in Europe and establish recommendations of best practices for establishing national and European gridded datasets.
See under "Methodology".
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
Frequency of updates
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
For references, please go to http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/storms-2 or scan the QR code.
PDF generated on 26 Mar 2017, 01:24 AM