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Land take by the expansion of residential areas and construction sites is the main cause of the increase in the coverage of urban land at the European level. Agricultural zones and, to a lesser extent, forests and semi-natural and natural areas, are disappearing in favour of the development of artificial surfaces. This affects biodiversity since it decreases habitats, the living space of a number of species, and fragments the landscapes that support and connect them. The annual land take in European countries assessed by 2006 Corine land cover project (EEA39 except Greece) was 107 968 ha/year in 2000-2006. In 21 countries covered by both periods (1990-2000 and 2000-2006) the annual land take decreased by 9 % in the later period. The composition of land taken areas changed, too. More arable land and permanent crops and less pastures and mosaic farmland were taken by artificial development then in 1990-2000. Identified trends are expected to change little when next assessment for 2006-2012 becomes available in 2014.
In 2010, the highest concentrations of oxidized nitrogen were found in the Baltic Sea, in the Gulf of Riga and Kiel Bay, and in Belgian, Dutch and German coastal waters in the Greater North Sea. Reported stations in the Northern Spanish and Croatian coastal waters also showed high concentration levels. The highest orthophosphate concentrations were found in the Baltic Sea, in the Gulf of Riga and Kiel Bay, and in Irish, Belgian, Dutch and German coastal waters in the Greater North Sea. Coastal stations along Northern Spain and Southern France also showed high concentration levels.
Between 1985 and 2010, overall nutrient concentrations have been either stable or decreasing in stations reported to the EEA in the Greater North Sea, Celtic Seas and in the Baltic Sea. However, this decrease has been more pronounced for nitrogen. Assessments for the overall Mediterranean and Black Sea regions were not possible, data only being available for stations in France and Croatia.
For oxidized nitrogen concentrations, 14% of all the reported stations showed decreasing trends, whereas only 2% showed increasing trends. Decreases were most evident in the Baltic Sea (coastal waters of Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, and open waters) and in southern part of the coast of the Greater North Sea. Increasing trends were mainly found in Croatian coastal stations.
For orthophosphate concentrations, 10% of all the reported stations showed a decrease. This was most evident in coastal and open water stations in the Greater North Sea, and in coastal stations in the Baltic Sea. Increasing orthophosphate trends, observed in 6% of the reported stations, were mainly detected in Irish, Danish and Finnish coastal waters (Gulf of Finland and Gulf of Bothnia) and in open waters of the Baltic Proper.
In 2010, the highest summer chlorophyll-a concentrations were observed in coastal areas and estuaries where nutrient concentrations are also generally high (see CSI 021 Nutrients in transitional, coastal and marine waters). These include the Gulf of Riga, Gulf of Gdansk, Gulf of Finland and along the German coast in the Baltic Sea, coastal areas in Belgium and The Netherlands in the Greater North Sea and in few locations along the coast of Ireland and France in the Celtic Seas and Bay of Biscay, respectively. High chlorophyll concentrations were also observed along the Gulf of Lions and in Montenegro coastal waters in the Mediterranean Sea, and along Romanian coastal waters in the Black Sea. Low summer chlorophyll concentrations were mainly observed in the Kattegat and open sea stations in the Greater North Sea, and in open sea stations in southern Baltic Sea.
Between 1985 to 2010, decreasing chlorophyll concentrations (showed in 8% of all the stations in the European seas reported to the EEA) were predominantly found along the southern coast of the Greater North Sea, along the Finnish coast in the Bothnian Bay in the Baltic Sea and in a few stations in the Western Mediterranean Sea and Adriatic Sea. In the Black Sea, it was not possible to make an overall assessment due to the lack of time series data. Increasing concentrations (observed in 5% of the reported stations) were generally observed in coastal locations in the Northern Baltic Sea but also in the open sea stations outside the north of the Celtic Seas. Most stations (87%) however showed no changes over time.
Wastewater treatment in all parts of Europe has improved during the last 15-20 years. The percentage of the population connected to wastewater treatment in the Southern, South-Eastern and Eastern Europe has increased over the last ten years. Latest values of population connected to wastewater treatment in the Southern countries are comparable to the values of Central and Northern countries, whereas the values of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe are still relatively low compared to Central and Northern Europe.
One of the most important objectives of the EU policy is to decouple waste generation from economic growth. Data shows that Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generation in the EU-27 has been stabilising since 2000 albeit at a high level of around 520 kg/capita. However, MSW generation went down to 513 kg/capita in 2010, probably an effect of the economic downturn starting in 2008.
Total emissions of primary sub-10µm particulate matter (PM 10 ) have reduced by 26% across the EEA-32 region between 1990 and 2010, driven by a 28% reduction in emissions of the fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ) fraction. Emissions of particulates between 2.5 and 10 µm have reduced by 21% over the same period; the difference of this trend to that of PM 2.5 is due to significantly increased emissions in the 2.5 to 10 µm fraction from 'Road transport' and 'Agriculture' (of 50% and 15% respectively) since 1990.
Of this reduction in PM 10 emissions, 39% has taken place in the 'Energy Production and Distribution' sector due to factors including the fuel-switching from coal to natural gas for electricity generation and improvements in the performance of pollution abatement equipment installed at industrial facilities.
Emissions of the main ground-level ozone precursor pollutants have decreased across the EEA-32 region between 1990 and 2010; nitrogen oxides (NO X ) by 42%, non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) by 53%, carbon monoxide (CO) by 61%, and methane (CH 4 ) by 32%.
This decrease has been achieved mainly as a result of the introduction of catalytic converters for vehicles, which has significantly reduced emissions of NO X and CO from the road transport sector, the main source of ozone precursor emissions.
The EU-27 as a whole has not met its 2010 target to reduce emissions of NO X , one of the two ozone precursors (NO X and NMVOC) for which emission limits exist under the EU's NEC Directive (NECD). Whilst total NMVOC emissions in the EU-27 were below the NECD limit in 2010, a number of individual Member States did not meet their ceilings for one or both of these two pollutants.
Of the three non-EU countries having emission ceilings for 2010 set under the UNECE/CLRTAP Gothenburg protocol (Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), all reported NMVOC emissions in 2010 that were lower than their respective ceilings, however Liechtenstein and Norway reported NO X emissions higher than their ceiling for 2010.
Emissions of the acidifying pollutants, nitrogen oxides (NO X ), sulphur oxides (SO X ) and ammonia (NH 3 ), have decreased significantly in most of the individual EEA member countries between 1990 and 2010. Emissions of SO X have decreased by 75%, NO X by 42% and NH 3 emissions by 28% since 1990 within the EEA-32.
Data reported under the NECD indicates that the EU-27 as a whole has met its overall target to reduce emissions of SO X and NH 3 as specified by the EU’s National Emissions Ceiling Directive (NECD). However twelve individual Member States, and the EU as a whole, reported emissions in the 2010 above their NECD 2010 emission ceilings for NO X , although the twelve Member States joining the EU in 2004/7 reported combined emissions below their collective NECD ceiling. Three EU-27 member states also reported 2010 NH 3 emissions above the levels of their NECD ceilings, neither of which are in the group of twelve new EU member states.
Of the three non-EU countries having emission ceilings for 2010 under the UNECE/CLRTAP Gothenburg protocol (Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), both Liechtenstein and Norway reported NO X emissions in 2010 that were substantially higher than their respective 2010 ceilings. Liechtenstein also reported 2010 NH 3 emissions above the level of their Gothenburg protocol 2010 ceiling.
The total production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in EEA member countries has decreased significantly since the Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 - nowadays it is practically zero. Globally, the implementation of the Montreal Protocol has led to a decrease in the atmospheric burden of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) in the lower atmosphere and in the stratosphere.
Many of the ODS are also potent greenhouse gases in their own right, but as they are governed through the Montreal Protocol, they are not separately regulated under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Thus the phasing out of ODS under the Montreal Protocol has also avoided global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2010, it has been estimated that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions achieved under the Montreal Protocol was 5 to 6 times larger than that which will result from the UNFCCC's Kyoto Protocol first commitment period, 2008-2012.
Mortality and morbidity increase, especially in vulnerable population groups, and general population well-being decreases during extreme cold spells and heat waves, as well as above and below local and seasonal comfort temperatures, with different temperature thresholds in Europe.
The number of warm days and nights has increased across Europe in recent decades. Heat waves over the last decade have caused tens of thousands of premature deaths in Europe.
Length, frequency and intensity of heat waves are very likely to increase in the future. This increase can lead to a substantial increase in mortality over the next decades, especially in vulnerable groups, unless adaptation measures are taken.
Cold-related mortality is projected to decrease in Europe due to climate change as well as better social, economic and housing conditions in many countries.
More than 325 major river floods have been reported for Europe since 1980, of which more than 200 have been reported since 2000.
The rise in the reported number of flood events over recent decades results mainly from better reporting and from land-use changes
Global warming is projected to intensify the hydrological cycle and increase the occurrence and frequency of flood events in large parts of Europe. However, estimates of changes in flood frequency and magnitude remain highly uncertain. In regions with reduced in snow accumulation during winter, the risk of early spring flooding would decrease.
Europe has been affected by several major droughts in recent decades, such as the catastrophic drought associated with the 2003 summer heat wave in central parts of the continent and the 2005 drought in the Iberian Peninsula.
Severity and frequency of droughts appear to have increased in parts of Europe, in particular in southern Europe.
Regions most prone to an increase in drought hazard are southern and south-eastern Europe, but minimum river flows will also decrease significantly in many other parts of the continent, especially in summer.
Long-term trends in river flows due to climate change are difficult to detect due to substantial inter annual and decadal variability as well as modifications to natural water flows arising from water abstractions, man-made reservoirs and land-use changes. Nevertheless, increased river flows during winter and lower river flows during summer have been recorded since the 1960s in large parts of Europe.
Climate change is projected to result in strong changes in the seasonality of river flows across Europe. Summer flows are projected to decrease in most of Europe, including in regions where annual flows are projected to increase.
The map shows the main drought events in Europe in 2002 - 2011
The map shows the observed and projected climate change and impacts for the main biogeographical regions in Europe
Eutrophication The magnitude of the risk of ecosystem eutrophication and its geographical coverage has diminished only slightly over the years. The predictions for 2010 and 2020 indicate that the risk is still widespread over Europe. This is in conflict with the EU's long-term objective of not exceeding critical loads of airborne acidifying and eutrophying substances in sensitive ecosystem areas (National Emission Ceilings Directive, 6th Environmental Action Programme, Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution).
Acidification The situation has considerably improved and it is predicted to improve further. The interim environmental objective for 2010 (National Emission Ceilings Directive) will most likely not be met completely. However, the European ecosystem areas where the critical load will be exceeded is predicted to have declined by more than 80 % in 2010 with 1990 as a base year. By 2020, it is expected that the risk of ecosystem acidification will only be an issue at some hot spots, in particular at the border area between the Netherlands and Germany.
Ozone (O 3 ) Most vegetation and agricultural crops are exposed to ozone levels exceeding the long term objective given in the EU Air Quality Directive. A significant fraction is also exposed to levels above the 2010 target value defined in the Directive. Concentrations in 2009 were on the average lower than in 2008. The effect-related accumulated concentrations, addressing exposure of crops to ozone over several summer months, shows large year-to-year variations. Over the period 1996-2009 there is a tendency to increased exposure, although this development has not proven to be statistically significant.
In 2010, EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions increased by 2.4 % compared to 2009. This was due to the return to economic growth in many countries and a colder winter leading to an increased demand for heating. However, the increase in emissions was contained by a move from coal to natural gas and the sustained strong growth in renewable energy generation. This increase noted in 2010 follows a 7 % drop in 2009 (compared to 2008), largely due to the economic recession and, again, the increased production of renewable energy.
With respect to 1990 levels, EU‑27 emissions were decreased by 15.4 % (Figure 1).
At a sectoral level, emissions decreased in all main sectors except the transport one, where they increased considerably.
In the EU-15, 2010 GHG emissions increased by 2.1 % compared to 2009 – an increase of 78.5 Mt CO 2 eq in absolute values. This implies that EU‑15 greenhouse gas emissions were approximately 10.6 % below the 1990 level in 2010 or 11 % below the base-year level. CO 2 emissions from public electricity and heat production also decreased by 6.1% with respect to 1990. The European Union remains well on track to achieve its Kyoto Protocol target (an 8% reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions compared to base-year level, to be achieved during the period from 2008 to 2012). A detailed assessment of progress towards Kyoto targets and 2020 targets in Europe is provided in EEA's 2012 report on Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections .
The quality of water at designated bathing waters in Europe (coastal and inland) has improved significantly since 1990.
Compliance with mandatory values in EU coastal bathing waters increased from just below 80 % in 1990 to 93.1 % in 2011. Compliance with guide values likewise rose from over 68 % to 80.1 % in 2011.
Compliance with mandatory values in EU inland bathing waters increased from over 52 % in 1990 to 89.9 % in 2011. Similarly, the rate of compliance with guide values moved from over 36 % in 1990 to 70.4 % in 2011.
Concentrations of BOD and total ammonium have decreased in European rivers in the period 1992 to 2010 (Fig. 1), mainly due to general improvement in wastewater treatment.
See also WISE interactive maps: Mean annual BOD in rivers and Mean annual Total Ammonium in rivers
Average nitrate concentrations in European groundwaters increased from 1992 to 1998, but have declined again since 2004.
The average nitrate concentration in European rivers decreased by approximately 11% between 1992 and 2010 (from 2.5 to 2.2 mg/l N), reflecting the effect of measures to reduce agricultural inputs of nitrate as well as improvement in wastewater treatment.
Average orthophosphate concentrations in European rivers have decreased markedly over the last two decades, being more than halved between 1992 and 2010 (54% decrease). Also average lake phosphorus concentration decreased over the period 1992-2010 (by 31%), the major part of the decrease occurring in the beginning of the period, but is still ongoing. The decrease in phosphorus concentrations reflects both improvement in wastewater treatment and reduction in phosphorus in detergents.
Overall, reductions in the levels of freshwater nutrients over the last two decades primarily reflect improvements in wastewater treatment. Emissions from agriculture continue to be a significant source.
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