The Greenland ice sheet is the largest body of ice in the Northern Hemisphere and plays an important role in the global climate system. Melting of the Greenland ice sheet has contributed about one fifth to global sea level rise in the last decade.
The Greenland ice sheet has lost ice during the last two decades at an increasing rate. The average ice loss increased from 34 billion tonnes per year (sea-level equivalent 0.09 mm per year) over the period 1992-2001 to 215 billion tonnes per year (0.59 mm per year) over the period 2002-2011.
Model projections suggest further declines of the Greenland ice sheet in the future but the uncertainties are large. The upper bounds for the sea-level contribution during the 21 st century and the 3 rd millennium (until the year 3000) are 16 cm and 4-5 m, respectively.
The global average concentrations of various greenhouse gases in the atmosphere remains increasing. The combustion of fossil fuels from human activities and land-use changes are largely responsible for this increase.
The concentration of all GHGs, including cooling aerosols that are relevant in the context of the 2 o C temperature target, reached a value of 416 ppm CO 2 equivalents in 2011
The concentration in 2011 of the six greenhouse gases (GHG) included in the Kyoto Protocol has reached 446 ppm CO 2 equivalent, an increase of 168 ppm (around +60%) compared to pre-industrial levels.
The concentration of CO 2 , the most important greenhouse gas, reached a level of 391 ppm by 2011, and further increased to 393 ppm in 2012. This is an increase of approximately 115 ppm (around +40%) compared to pre-industrial levels.
The latest EEA preliminary estimations shows that transport emissions, including aviation, fell by 2.3 % in 2012, following the reduction trend seen from 2008. In 2011, transport (including shipping and aviation) contributed 25 % of the total of GHG emissions in the EU-28. Emissions in 2011 were 25 % above 1990 levels, despite a decline between 2008 and 2011. Emissions will, therefore, need to fall by 68 % by 2050 in order to meet the Transport White Paper target. International aviation experienced the largest percentage increase in GHG emissions from 1990 levels (+ 94 %), followed by international shipping (+ 48 %).
Emissions from international shipping declined between 2008 and 2010. However, GHG emissions from international aviation rose by almost 3 % in 2011, breaking the reduction trend seen since 2008.
Outside the EU-28, transport emissions in Turkey, excluding bunkers, have increased substantially by 82 % since 1990. In Switzerland, transport emissions (excluding shipping) have increased by 18 %, slightly below the EU-28 average, while in Norway and Iceland, emissions increased by 40 % and 53 % respectively, which are well above the EU-28 average.
Several large storm surge events have caused loss of life and damage to property in Europe during the past century. The most notable event occurred in 1953 when more than 2 000 people were killed, and there was massive damage to property around the coastline of the southern North Sea.
There is strong evidence that extreme coastal water levels have increased at many locations around the European coastline. However, this appears to be predominantly due to increases in time mean local sea level at most locations rather than to changes in storm activity.
Large natural variability in extreme coastal sea levels makes detecting long-term changes in trends difficult in the absence of good quality long observational records.
Multi-decadal projections of changes in storms and storm surges for the European region continue to have high uncertainty. The most recent studies indicate that increases in extreme coastal water levels will likely be dominated by increases in local relative mean sea level, with changes in the meteorologically-driven surge component being less important at most locations.
Storm location, frequency and intensity show considerable variability across Europe over the past century, such that no clear trends are apparent. A recent reanalysis suggests that storminess has increased over the past century in northern and north-western Europe but this finding is not yet robust.
Climate change projections from a recent climate model ensemble study show a small increase in extreme wind speeds over northern parts of central and western Europe, and a decrease in southern Europe. The results of studies into changes in winter storm tracks show no clear signal.
Three independent long term records of global average near-surface (land and ocean) annual temperature show that the decade between 2003 and 2012 was 0.76°C to 0.81°C warmer than the pre-industrial average.
Between 1990 and 2010, the rate of change in global average temperature has been close to the 0.2°C per decade.
Global mean surface temperature rose rapidly from the 1970s, but has been relatively flat in the last decade mostly due to heat transfer between upper and deep ocean waters.
The Arctic has warmed significantly more than the rest of the globe, and this is projected to continue into the future.
The best estimate for the further rise in global average temperature at the end of 21st century is between 1.8 and 4.0°C for the lowest and highest SRES marker scenarios (IPCC SRES) that assume no additional political measures to limit emissions. When climate model uncertainties are taken into account, the likely range increases to 1.1 to 6.4 °C. The EU target of limiting global average temperature increase to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels is projected to be exceeded during the second half of this century and likely around 2050, for all six IPCC SRES scenarios.
The average temperature for the European land area for the last decade (2003-2012) is 1.3°C above the pre-industrial level, which makes it the warmest on record.
Climate simulations from different regional climate models all using A1B SRES scenario show that the annual average land temperature over Europe will continue to increase by more than global average temperature during the 21 st century. By the 2021-2050 period, temperature increases of between 1.0°C and 2.5°C are projected, and by 2071-2100 this increases to between 2.5°C and 4.0°C.
The largest temperature increase during 21 st century is projected over eastern and northern Europe in winter and over Southern Europe in summer.
Extremes of cold have become less frequent in Europe while warm extremes have become more frequent. Since 1880 the average length of summer heat waves over Western Europe doubled and frequency of hot days almost tripled.
In 2011, EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 3.3 % compared to 2010. This was mainly due to the milder winter of 2011 in many countries, leading to lower heating demand from the residential and commercial sectors. In general, emissions from natural gas combustion fell, while emissions resulting from solid fuel consumption increased due to higher coal consumption in 2011 compared to 2010 levels.
This decrease in emissions continues the overall decreasing trend since 2004, with the exception of 2010, when emissions temporarily increased due to increased economic growth in many countries coupled with a colder winter. With respect to 1990 levels, EU‑27 emissions have decreased by 18.4 % ( Figure 1 ). At a sectoral level, emissions decreased in all main emitting sectors except transport and production and consumption of fluorinated gases (F-gases), where they increased considerably in percentage terms. CO 2 emissions from public electricity and heat production decreased by 15.9% compared to 1990.
In the EU-15, 2011 GHG emissions decreased by 4.2 % compared to 2010 – a decrease of 159.6 Mt CO 2 - eq in absolute values. This implies that EU‑15 greenhouse gas emissions were approximately 14.7 % below the 1990 level in 2011 or 14.9 % below the base-year level. CO 2 emissions from public electricity and heat production are also decreased by 9.3% 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 the EEA's 2012 report on Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections and will be updated in October 2013.
Since 1990, EU-27 F-gas emissions have experienced significant growth, more than offsetting an intermittent decrease between 1997 and 2001. While PFCs and SF 6 emissions have been reduced to a significant degree, a major rise is observed for HFCs emissions which have tripled since 1990.
In addition to domestic EU production and sales of F-gases, significant amounts of F-gases are also imported and exported. Imports generally increased over the period 2007–2011, while EU production has stabilised at levels that are around 20 % lower than those reported in 2007. When expressed in metric tonnes, data for the reporting year 2011 show a decrease in production (-5 %), import (-6 %) and intra-EU sales (-12 %) of F-gases compared to the previous year.
Context: Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) covered by the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol comprise hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF 6 ). These F-gases typically have very long lifetimes in the atmosphere and high global warming potentials (GWPs). The gases are mostly produced for use in products and equipment in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector, foams, fire protection etc. Emissions take place mainly due to leakage during the use phase or due to failure to fully recover the F-gases at the end of the product/equipment lifetime. Future F-gas emissions are thus largely determined by (i) present day consumption of F-gases and (ii) measures to prevent leakage and encourage recovery..
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.
The area covered by forests and other wooded land in Europe (39 EEA countries) has increased for many decades.
Forest biomass in the EEA region is also growing, and the average growth rate has increased from 1990 to 2010.
In some central and western areas of Europe, forest growth has been reduced in the last 10 years due to storms, pests and diseases.
Future climate change and increasing CO 2 concentrations are expected to affect site suitability, productivity, species composition and biodiversity, and thus have an impact on the goods and services that the forests provide. In general, forest growth is projected to increase in northern Europe and to decrease in southern Europe.
Ozone is both an important air pollutant and a GHG. Excessive exposure to ground-level ozone is estimated to cause about 20000 premature deaths per year in Europe.
Attribution of observed ozone exceedances, or changes therein, to individual causes, such as climate change, is difficult.
Future climate change is expected to increase ozone concentrations but this effect will most likely be outweighed by reduction in ozone levels due to expected future emission reductions.
Flowering of several perennial crops has advanced by about two days per decade in recent decades.
Changes in timing of crop phenology are affecting crop production and the relative performance of different crop species and varieties.
The shortening of crop growth phases in many crops is expected to continue. The shortening of the grain filling phase of cereals and oilseed crops can be particularly detrimental to yield.
The transmission cycles of vector-borne diseases are sensitive to climatic factors but also to land use, vector control, human behaviour and public health capacities.
Climate change is regarded as the main factor behind the observed northward and upward move of the tick species Ixodes ricinus in parts of Europe.
Climate change is projected to lead to further northward and upward shifts in the distribution of I. ricinus. It is also expected to affect the habitat suitability for a wide range of disease vectors, including Aedes albopictus and phlebotomine species of sandflies, in both directions.
105 million ha., or 16 % of Europe’s total land area (excluding Russia) were estimated to be affected by water erosion in the 1990s.
Some 42 million ha. of land were estimated to be affected by wind erosion, of which around 1 million ha. were categorised as being severely affected.
A recent new model of soil erosion by water has estimated the surface area affected in the EU‐27 at 130 million ha. Almost 20 % is subjected to soil loss in excess of 10 tonnes/ha./year.
Increased variations in rainfall pattern and intensity will make soils more susceptible to water erosion, with off-site effects of soil erosion increasing.
Increased aridity will make finer-textured soils more vulnerable to wind erosion, especially if accompanied by a decrease in soil organic matter levels.
Reliable quantitative projections for soil erosion are not available.
The warming of the World Ocean accounts for approximately 93 % of the warming of the Earth system during the last 6 decades.
An increasing trend in the heat content in the uppermost 700 m depth of the World Ocean is evident over the last 6 decades. Recent observations show substantial warming also of the deeper ocean (between 700 m and 2 000 m depth).
Further warming of the oceans is expected with projected climate change, but quantitative projections of ocean heat content are not available.
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.
River and coastal flooding affect millions of people in Europe each year. They affect human health through drowning, heart attacks, injuries, infections, psychosocial consequences, and health effects of chemical hazards as well as disruption of services.
Observed increases in heavy precipitation and extreme coastal high-water events have led to more river and coastal flooding in many European regions.
Increases in health risks associated with river and coastal flooding are projected in many regions of Europe due to projected increases in extreme precipitation events and sea level.
Hydro-meteorological events (storms, floods, and landslides) account for 64 % of the reported damages due to natural disasters in Europe since 1980; climatological events (extreme temperatures; droughts and forest fires) account for another 20 %.
Overall damages from extreme weather events have increased from EUR 9 billion in the 1980s to more than EUR 13 billion in the 2000s (inflation-corrected).
The observed damage increase is primarily due to increases in population, economic wealth and human activities in hazard-prone areas and to better reporting.
It is currently difficult to determine accurately the proportion of damage costs that are attributable to climate change. The contribution of climate change to the damage costs from natural disasters is expected to increase due to the projected changes in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.
The number of heating degree days (HDD) has decreased by an average of 16 per year since 1980. This helps reduce the demand for heating, particularly in northern and north-western Europe.
Climate change will affect future energy and electricity demand. Climate change is not expected to change total energy demand in Europe substantially across Europe, but there may be significant seasonal effects, with large regional differences.
Fire risk depends on many factors, including climatic conditions, vegetation (e.g. fuel load and condition), forest management practices and other socio-economic factors.
The number of fires in the Mediterranean region has increased over the period from 1980 to 2000; it has decreased thereafter.
In a warmer climate, more severe fire weather and an expansion of the fire-prone area and longer fire seasons, as a consequence, are projected, but with considerable regional variation.
The impact of fire events is particularly strong in southern Europe on already degraded ecosystems.