Storms and storm surges in Europe
Published (reviewed and quality assured)
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.
- No rationale references available
- 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
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
No targets have been specified
Related policy documents
No related policy documents have been specified
Methodology for indicator calculation
Methodology for gap filling
No methodology references available.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
No uncertainty has been specified
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?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
PDF generated on 31 Jul 2015, 06:48 PM