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Storms and storm surges in Europe

Indicator Specificationexpired Created 11 Jul 2008 Published 08 Sep 2008 Last modified 11 Sep 2015, 12:37 PM
Note: new version is available!
Topics: ,
This content has been archived on 17 Nov 2014, reason: Other (New version data-and-maps/indicators/storms-1 was published)
Indicator codes: CLIM 005

Update planned for November 2012

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)
  • No published assessments


Justification for indicator selection

Storms in Europe consist of extreme, near-surface damage-causing winds, associated with the passage of intense extra-tropical cyclones (Pinto et al., 2007). Storms occur, in general, in north or north-western Europe all year, but in central Europe mainly between November and February. Storm surges are temporary increases in sea level, above the level of the tide, often causing coastal flooding. Storm events can have large impacts on vulnerable systems such as transport, forestry and energy infrastructures, and also on human safety.
Storm activity in Europe and the neighboring part of the Atlantic is closely connected with atmospheric circulation. But the correlation between the NAO index and storminess across Europe varies with space and time. Direct wind observation data of sufficient quality are often lacking. Instead, storm intensity and frequency can be indirectly assessed through changes in the air pressure fields. Note that projections of changes in wind conditions are highly uncertain, mainly because of the uncertainty in atmospheric circulation projections.
Storm surges result from the combined action of atmospheric pressure and strong wind on the sea surface and occur mostly in shallow water. An increase in mean sea level will directly affect extreme levels. Changes in water depth can also influence the tidal component, modifying the extent of flooded areas. Future storm surge extremes are related both to storminess and to sea level changes.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

  • Storm index for various parts of Europe 1881-2005
  • Projected relative change of annual maximum daily mean wind speed between 1961-2000 and 2050 using different models
  • Change in the height of a 50-year return period extreme water level event for the end of 21st century for different scenarios


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:


No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified


Methodology for indicator calculation

Methodology for gap filling

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures


Methodology uncertainty

Data sets uncertainty

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Further work

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.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Blaz Kurnik


European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
CLIM 005
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Climate change Climate change


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DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
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