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Indicator Assessment

Global and European temperature - outlook from UNFCCC

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-138-en
Last modified 11 May 2021
16 min read
This page was archived on 09 Feb 2021 with reason: Other (Discontinued indicator)

Floods:

The region most prone to a rise in river flood frequencies is North-Eastern Europe, i.e. Sweden, Finland and Russia, with increases of 100-year flood discharges of over 25% (today's 100-year floods would return every 10 years). Central and Southern Europe show a decreasing trend in future flood frequencies. Some smaller regions like the Wisla basin in Poland, the Irish Island or Portugal show indications for a rise in flood risk. For some regions like Italy or Greece, the two climate scenarios lead to contradictory results, allowing for no conclusions but rather reflecting the uncertainties of the model calculations.

Draughts

North and smaller parts of Central Europe (Germany, Alps) show a decreasing trend in future drought frequencies. The regions most prone to a rise in hydrological drought frequencies are Southern Europe, i.e. Portugal, Spain, Western France and Western Turkey, as well as parts of East-Central Europe, i.e. the Wisla basin in Poland, with increases of 100-year deficit volumes of over 25% (today's 100-year droughts would return every 10 years). Also areas like Great Britain, Italy, Greece, the Balkan region and large areas in East-Central Europe show indications for a rise in drought risk.

 

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Change on magnitude of 100-year droughts. Left map: Comparison of results calculated with Water GAP 2.1 for today’s climate (1961-90) and for 2070s (HadCM3 climate model and Baseline-A water use scenario). Right map: Comparison of results calculated with WaterGAP 2.1 for today’s climate and water use (1961-90) and for 2070s (Baseline-A water use scenario at today’s climate)

Note: N/A

Data source:

Center for Environmental Systems Research

Change in occurrence of 100-year floods. Comparisons of results calculated with WaterGAP 2.1 for today’s climate (1961-90) and for the 2020s and 2070s (ECHAM4 and HadCM3climate models)

Note: N/A

Change on magnitude of 100-year floods. Comparison of results calculated with Water GAP 2.1 for today’s climate (1961-90) and for 2070s (HadCM3 climate model)

Note: N/A

Data source:

Center for Environmental Systems Research

Change in occurrence of 100-year droughts. Comparisons of results calculated with WaterGAP 2.1 for today’s climate (1961-90) and for the 2020s and 2070s (ECHAM4 and HadCM3climate models and Baseline-A water use scenario)

Note: N/A

Data source:

Center for Environmental Systems Research

Flood

It expected that the 100-year flood discharges for large areas in Northern and Eastern Europe (Sweden, Finland, Russia) will rise with maximum of more than 25%. Besides the general increase in the precipitation amounts, the change in temperature is assumed to have a significant impact via its effect on the snowmelt pattern. Smaller areas affected by a clear rise of the 100-year flood discharge are the Wisla basin in Eastern Poland, the Irish Island and parts of Portugal and Spain. The latter is rather remarkable as the HadCM3 GCM predicts a decrease in the average precipitation amounts for this region in the 2070s. The increase in the 100-year flood discharges must therefore be explained by an inner-annual change in the flow regime towards both more extreme high and, as a consequence, low flow months. Amongst the Alpine rivers it is primarily the Rhine river which shows a significant increase in flood discharge for its upper and middle course. Large parts of Central and Southern Europe show a decrease in the 100-year flood risk, induced most probably by either a decrease in precipitation or a more equally balanced inner-annual flow regime in the future scenario.

The 2070s HadCM3 results show increasing (or decreasing, respectively) flood frequencies for basically the same regions. This implies that an increase of the 100-year flood discharge by about 10% can roughly be interpreted as a change in return period from 100 years to about 40 years, and so on for the other classes. As an exception the Wisla basin shows an increase of up to 25% and above in flood discharge, leading to a change in return period from 100 years to about 40 years only. This indicates a rather steep flood frequency distribution for this river basin.

Both climate models agree in their estimates of more pronounced changes for the 2070s, where a 100-year flood of today's magnitude would return more frequently than every

10 years in parts of Finland and Russia. The predictions with HadCM3 are contradictory in several regions for the 2020s and 2070s (e.g. Eastern Spain, Alps, Greece), whereas the results with ECHAM4 seem to be more monotonic in time (with only few exceptions like Central Italy). Some smaller regions, like Italy, Greece and North-Eastern Spain develop oppositely according to which of the two GCMs is applied. Only a few areas like parts of Germany, the Balkan region, Ukraine and Turkey show a consistent decrease in flood frequencies throughout both GCMs and both time slices. Still, for the 2070s Eastern Great Britain, Central and South-Eastern Europe generally tend towards an improvement of the flood risk situation.

 

Droughts

A strong increase in the 100-year deficit volumes for large areas in Southern Europe as well as for parts of Western (Iberian Peninsula, Western France, Southern Great Britain) and East-Central Europe (Southern Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Southern Russia) are expected with maximum rises of more than 25%.

Besides a general decrease in the precipitation amounts, the change in temperature is assumed to have a significant impact via its effect on the evapotranspiration rates. Another aspect of the chosen threshold value becomes apparent in Scandinavia. Here, in fact the average discharges increase that much, that throughout most years the threshold value is exceeded, leaving only a few years with deficit volumes other than zero.

The influence of population density and classification (rural or urban) leads to variations within a country (e.g. Northern vs. Southern Russia). A transboundary (international) effect is noticeable when looking at the Elbe river basin (Czech Republic and Northern Germany). The increase in deficit volumes induced by rising water use in the Czech Republic is passed on throughout the complete Elbe river course and thus affects Northern Germany.

The worsening in 100-year drought severity amongst Western European countries is primarily caused by climate change.

For Eastern Europe, the change in water use plays an important role for the future low flow regimes. Here, the superimposed climatic changes worsen the situation in the southern regions, but have a meliorating effect for the northern areas as higher low flows balance the increased water demand.

The 2070s HadCM3 results show increasing (or decreasing, respectively) drought frequencies for basically the same regions. This implies that an increase of the 100-year deficit volume by about 10% can roughly be interpreted as a change in return period from 100 years to about 40 years, and so on for the other classes.

Both climate models agree in their estimates of more pronounced changes for the 2070s, where a 100-year drought of today's magnitude would return more frequently than every 10 years in parts of Spain and Portugal, Western France, the Wisla basin in Poland, and Western Turkey. The results of both ECHAM4 and HadCM3 are contradictory in several regions for their respective 2020s and 2070s (e.g. Southern Italy, Balkan Southern Russia for ECHAM4, Scandinavia, Bulgaria for HadCM3). For the 2020s, ECHAM4 and HadCM3 lead to opposite results in Scandinavia. In the 2070s, Great Britain, Italy, Greece, the Balkan region and large areas in East-Central Europe develop a different drought severity according to which of the two climate models is applied, but commonly tend towards higher drought frequencies. Only a few areas like Southern Finland and Northern Russia show a consistent decrease in drought frequencies throughout both climate models and both time slices. Still, for the 2070s Scandinavia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Northern Belarus and Russia, most of Germany and the Alpine region generally tend towards an improvement of the drought risk situation.

 

Supporting information

Indicator definition

The indicator shows the annual average temperature of the air, its development in a given period of time, and deviations from a long-term average in the country as a whole and in particular regions and municipalities.

Units

Degrees Celsius (°C).


 

Policy context and targets

Context description

Over a decade ago, most countries joined an international treaty -- the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) -- to begin to consider what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases are inevitable. Recently, a number of nations have approved an addition to the treaty: the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol, an international and legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gases emissions world wide, entered into force on February 16th 2005. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol shares the Convention's objective, principles and institutions, but significantly strengthens the Convention by committing Annex I Parties to individual, legally-binding targets to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

To date 40 countries in the Pan-European region ratified the Kyoto Protocol, notably:  Annex I: Belarus,Bulgaria,Croatia, Romania,  Russian Federation,Ukraine, EU 25. Non-Annex I countries:Albania,Armenia,Azerbaijan,Georgia,Kyrgyzstan, Former Yugoslavian Republic Macedonia,Republic ofMoldova,Turkmenistan, andUzbekistan.

Kazakhstanhas signed but not ratified the protocol. It expects to enter into quantitative GHG reduction obligations for the period of 2008-2012 and expects to become a full participant of the three Kyotomechanisms. (Strategy of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Climate Change).Bosnia and Herzegovina,Serbia andMontenegro,Tajikistan andTurkey have no commitments as they did not sign or ratify the Protocol.

At the EU level the aims for reduction of the impact on Climate is expressed in the EC 6th Environmental Action Programme, EC 2006 Green paper on energy and a number of Council Decisions (see policy targets).

EECCA Environmental Strategy emphasizes importance of measure in energy and transport sectors in order to reduce Climate Change.

Targets

Global level

The UNFCC Convention and the Kyoto Protocol do not put individual targets for global temperature but they provide general policy context.

EU level

To avoid serious climate change impacts, the European Council proposed in its sixth environmental action programme (6EAP, 2002), reaffirmed by the Environment Council and the European Council of 22-23 March 2005 (Presidency Conclusions, section IV(46)), that the global average temperature increase should be limited to not more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels (about 1.3 degrees C above current global mean temperature). In addition, some studies have proposed a 'sustainable' target of limiting the rate of anthropogenic warming to 0.1 to 0.2 degrees C per decade (Leemans and Hootsman, 1998, WBGU, 2003).

The targets for both absolute temperature change (i.e. 2 degrees C) and rate of change (i.e. 0.1-0.2 degrees C per decade) were initially derived from the migration rates of selected plant species and the occurrence of past natural temperature changes. Although studies have indicated that such changes might still result in impacts in various vulnerable regions, both targets have been confirmed as (a) suitable (target) from both a scientific and a political perspective (e.g. Leemans and Hootsmans, 1998, WBGU, 2003).

The European Council of 8/9 March 2007 underlined the vital importance of achieving the strategic objective of limiting the global average temperature increase to not more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

EECCA level

EECCA Environmental Strategy does not set any specific targets which can be measured with the help of this indicator.

Related EECCA policy documents

Environmental Partnerships in the UNECE Region: Environment Strategy for Countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and central Asia

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified

 

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Data for the projected temperature is extracted from the most recent National Communications submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and referes  in most cases to the baseline scenario (in some cases for the scenario with measures). Temperature is measured systematically by the institutions responsible for meteorology or hydrometeorology in countries. The best practices and concepts for climate monitoring developed in the framework of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS); the Guide to Meteorological Instruments and Methods of Observation prepared by the Main Geophysical Observatory in coordination with WMO. Climatic standards recommended by WMO are the calculated standards based on 30-year observation data (1961 - 1990).

Overview of the Projection Models

Projections of the temperature reported in the National Communications are calculated using a range of Global Climate Models (GCMs).

Mostly for all countries temperature projections are based on calculations carried out using HadCM3 model (Hadley Centre Coupled Model, version 3), developed by the Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom.

Scenarios and key assumptions

The National Communications present the three most common scenarios: a) baseline scenario or without measures scenario, b) with measures scenario or mitigation scenario, c) with additional measures scenario. These scenarios reflect various hypotheses related to economic growth, population growth, economic and policy development. They also reflect evolution of activities in the energy sector and other non-energy sectors, which contribute to GHG emissions.Each communication describes the national context for all three scenarios in detail.  

The baseline scenario includes all (and only) implemented and current policies and measures as for the time of the development of the national reports, i.g. no assumptions are made on the development and implementation of additional measures and policies in the time horizon considered. Therefore we used these data for our purposes.

Methodology for gap filling

National reports on Climate Change are not available for the following countries: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Tajikistan, Turkey. These countries are not parties of the Kyoto protocol (except Albania) and have no obligations to report to the convention. More detailed information about availability of the national reports can be found here.
The results of the research from individual countries or the projections done by global modeling can be used for gap filling . No gap filling was done at this stage of the project.

It is expected that the Russian Federation will submit its forth national communication in September/ October 2006. Thus there is currently no data on the temperature changes. It is possible to extract the data from the third national communication, but it will not include the current economic development in the Russian Federation and may result in bigger uncertainties in the assessment.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

 

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

Uncertainties in the projections in temperature have not been assessed. The methodology and quality of the data differs widely between countries.
Different countries use different methodologies to calculate their projections of the temperature. It is unclear to which extend the projections form different models are compatible. Simply to compare temperature for baseline scenario (and across different scenarios) for different countries is not sufficient to shed light on internal consistency, plausibility, and comparability of data and the assumptions behind the scenarios. Analysis of the underlying driving forces (population growth, economic growth, energy consumption, and energy and carbon intensities) should thus also be an important part of the evaluation. Some of these driving forces are specified as model inputs, and some are derived from model outputs, so it is necessary to determine the assumed relationships among the main driving forces.

Data sets uncertainty

1) The dates for submission of the National communications vary from 1998 (Armenia) to 2006 (Belarus, Ukraine, Russia). The models used for calculations of the projected temperature by different countries use different scenarios reflecting various hypotheses related to economic growth, population growth, policy development, evolution of activities in the energy sector and other non-energy sectors, which contribute to temperature and GHG emissions. The assumptions for the projection of GHG emission and temperature in the National Communications produced in the earlier days may not sufficiently reflect current developments of the countries and additional analysis might be needed. Some for example claim that economic growth in some EECCA and SEE countries was not as high as it was expected and thus the projections of GHG emissions  and temperature reported in the communications are higher than the current emission levels.

2) The dates for when simulations were run are unclear. It is however possible to asses the period of the simulation by date of publication of the national communications and the base year used for simulations which are presented in the table below.

 

Country Year of publishing
the most recent communication
Baseline year for
model simulation
Albania 2002 to be extracted from the NCC by the 15th October
Armenia 1998 #
Azerbaijan 2000 #
Belarus 2006 #
Bulgaria 2002 #
Croatia 2001 #
Georgia 1999 #
Kazahstan 1998 #
Kyrgistan 2003 #
Moldova 2000 #
Macedonia 2003 #
Romania 2005 #
Russia 2002 #
Turkmenistan 2000 #
Tajikistan 2002 #
Ukraine 2006/ 2003 #
Uzbekistan    1999                                                   #

Rationale uncertainty

The observed increase in average air temperature, particularly during the recent decades, is one of the clearest signals of global climate change

The indicator shows trends in temperature data over time. Temperature is directly linked to the question of climate change and is a state variable that changes in response to the pressures of global warming.

There is growing evidence that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are (mostly) responsible for the recently observed fast increases in average temperature. Natural factors like volcanoes and sun activity could explain to a large extent the temperature variability up to mid of the 20th century, but they can explain only a small part of the recent warming.

Data sources

  • No datasets have been specified.

Other info

DPSIR: State
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • Outlook 044
EEA Contact Info info@eea.europa.eu

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Geographic coverage

Dates

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