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The extent and volume of the Arctic Sea ice has declined rapidly since global data became available in 1980, especially in summer. Record low sea ice cover in September 2007, 2011 and 2012 was roughly half the size of the normal minimum extent in the 1980s. In September 2013 ice cover was well below the average for 1981-2010.
Over the period 1979–2013, the Arctic has lost on average 43 000 km 2 of sea ice per year in winter and 95 000 km 2 per year at the end of summer. The decline in summer sea ice appears to have accelerated since 1999.
The maximum sea ice extent in the Baltic Sea has been decreasing most of the time since about 1800. The decrease appears to have accelerated since the 1980s but the large interannual variability prohibits a clear assessment as to whether this increase is statistically significant.
Arctic Sea ice is projected to continue to shrink and thin all year round. For high greenhouse gas emissions, a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean in September is likely before mid-century. There will still be substantial ice in winter.
Baltic Sea ice, in particular the extent of the maximal cover, is projected to continue to shrink.
Surface-ocean pH has declined from 8.2 to below 8.1 over the industrial era due to the growth of atmospheric CO 2 concentrations. This decline corresponds to an increase in oceanic acidity of about 30%.
Observed reductions in surface-water pH are nearly identical across the global ocean and throughout Europe’s seas.
Ocean acidification in recent decades is occurring a hundred times faster than during past natural events over the last 55 million years.
Ocean acidification already reaches into the deep ocean, particularly in the high latitudes.
Models consistently project further ocean acidification worldwide. Surface ocean pH is projected to decrease to values between 8.05 and 7.75 by the end of 21 st century depending on future CO 2 emission levels. The largest projected decline represents more than a doubling in acidity.
Ocean acidification may affect many marine organisms within the next 20 years and could alter marine ecosystems and fisheries.
In the past 10–20 years European permafrost has shown a general warming trend, with greatest warming in the cold permafrost in Svalbard and Scandinavia. The depth of seasonal thaw has increased at several European permafrost sites. Some sites show great interannual variability, which reflects the complex interaction between the atmospheric conditions and local snow and ground characteristics.
Recent projections agree on substantial near-surface permafrost degradation resulting in thaw depth deepening (i.e. permafrost degeneration) over much of the permafrost area.
Warming and thawing of permafrost is expected to increase the risk of rock falls, debris flows and ground subsidence. Thawing of permafrost also affects biodiversity and can contribute to climate change through release of CO 2 and CH 4 from Arctic permafrost areas.
In 2012 EU GHG emissions decresed by 19.2 % since 1990. Compared to 2011 GHG decreased in the majority of key sectors, with the exception of public electricity and heat production and residential and commercial.
Almost all EU Member States are well on track towards achieving its commitments under the first period of the Kyoto Protocol.
EU-15 average emissions between 2008 and 2012 were 11.8 % below base-year levels.
In the EU, average emissions covered by the EU emission trading system (ETS) between 2008 and 2012 were 11 % below 2005 levels.
In all EU Member States except Luxembourg and Poland, emissions under the ESD (not covered by the EU ETS) were below their 2013 target in 2012.
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.
Sea surface temperature in European seas has been increasing in the past century at a faster rate than the global ocean.
The rate of increase in sea surface temperature in all European seas during the past 25 years is the largest ever measured in any 25-year period. It has been several times faster than the average rate of increase during the past century, and it is also much faster than the global ocean.
Globally averaged sea surface temperature is projected to continue to increase although more slowly than atmospheric temperature.
The vast majority of glaciers in the European glacial regions are in retreat. Glaciers in the European Alps have lost approximately two thirds of their volume since 1850, with clear acceleration since the 1980s.
Glacier retreat is expected to continue in the future. The volume of European glaciers has been estimated to decline between 22 and 84 % compared to the current situation by 2100 under a moderate greenhouse gas forcing scenario and between 38 and 89% under a high forcing scenario.
Glacier retreat has contributed to global sea-level rise with about 0.8 mm per year in 2005-2009. It also affects freshwater supply and run off regimes, river navigation, irrigation and power generation. Furthermore it may cause natural hazards and damage to infrastructure.
Snow cover extent in the Northern Hemisphere has declined significantly over the past 90 years, with most of the reductions occurring since 1980. Snow cover extent has decreased by 7% on average in March and April and by 53% in June over the 1967–2012 period.
Snow mass in the Northern hemisphere has decreased by 7 % in March from 1982 to 2009; snow mass in Europe has decreased even more, but with large inter-annual variation.
Model simulations project widespread reductions in the extent and duration of snow cover in Europe over the 21st century.
Changes in snow cover affect the Earth’s surface reflectivity, water resources, the flora and fauna and their ecology, agriculture, forestry, tourism, snow sports, transport and power generation.
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 almost tripled since 1990.
In addition to domestic EU production and net supply of F-gases, significant amounts of F-gases are also imported and exported. Production appears to stabilise slightly above 2008 levels after the sharp decline that was observed from 2007 to 2009. Imports of F-gases grew from 2007 to 2008, experienced a dip in the 'economic crisis' year of 2009 and have been on the decline since 2010. Similar to production data, exports (when measured in metric tonnes) appear to stabilise close to 2008 levels after the sharp decline that was observed from 2007 to 2009. When measured in CO 2 -equivalents, however, 2011 and 2012 export levels exceed the 2007 starting point, mainly due to increasing SF 6 exports. Finally, the longer-term trend for EU net supply shows a stabilisation at levels which are close to the 'economic crisis' year 2009.
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 use of F-gases and (ii) measures to prevent leakage and encourage recovery.
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.
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.
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.
Weeds that have had boiling water poured over them turn brown within a few hours and die. There is no toxic residue and the area is immediately safe for children to play.
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