Wind storms

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: CLIM 005
Created 04 Jan 2017 Published 04 Jan 2017 Last modified 06 Jan 2017
Projected changes in extreme wind speed (98th percentile of daily maximum wind speed) based on GCM and RCM ensemble

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Rationale

Justification for indicator selection

Wind storms are atmospheric disturbances that are defined by strong sustained wind. They can range from relatively small and localised events to large features covering a substantial part of the continent. Large storms in Europe are extra-tropical cyclones; they develop from low-pressure weather systems that capture their energy from the temperature contrast between the sub-tropical and polar air masses that meet in the Atlantic Ocean. In northern and north-western Europe, severe cyclones can occur all year. In central Europe, severe cyclones occur mainly between November and February, but weaker cyclones can also occur in other seasons.

Wind storms can lead to structural damage, flooding and storm surges, which may be caused either by the wind itself, in particular short gusts, or by accompanying heavy precipitation. These events can have large impacts on human health and on vulnerable systems, such as forests, as well as transport and energy infrastructures. According to Munich RE’s natural catastrophe loss database (NatCatSERVICE), storms were the costliest natural hazard (in terms of insured losses) in Europe between 1980 and 2013; they ranked fourth in terms of the number of human casualties (see Section 5.1). The European regions most strongly affected were north-western, western and northern Europe, in particular regions close to the coast.

Studies of storm activity have increased in recent years as a result of improved observational datasets, the development of algorithms for the identification and quantification of these phenomena, and improved understanding of the causation of extreme weather events. In addition, high-resolution GCM simulations for both present-day climate and climate change scenarios are increasingly becoming available. Nevertheless, there are still considerable uncertainties in the historical records and in our understanding of the processes influencing current storm activity and how these may be affected by climate change.

Scientific references

Indicator definition

  • Projected changes in extreme wind speed (98th percentile of daily maximum wind speed) based on GCM and RCM ensemble

Units

  • m/s

Policy context and targets

Context description

In April 2013 the European Commission presented the EU Adaptation Strategy Package (http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/adaptation/what/documentation_en.htm). This package consists of the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change /* COM/2013/0216 final */ and a number of supporting documents. One of the objectives of the EU Adaptation Strategy is Better informed decision-making, which should occur through Bridging the knowledge gap and Further developing Climate-ADAPT as the ‘one-stop shop’ for adaptation information in Europe. Further objectives include Promoting action by Member States and Climate-proofing EU action: promoting adaptation in key vulnerable sectors. Many EU Member States have already taken action, such as by adopting national adaptation strategies, and several have also prepared action plans on climate change adaptation.

The European Commission and the European Environment Agency have developed the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT, http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/) to share knowledge on observed and projected climate change and its impacts on environmental and social systems and on human health; on relevant research; on EU, national and subnational adaptation strategies and plans; and on adaptation case studies.

In September 2016, the EC presented an indicative roadmap for the evaluation of the EU Adaptation Strategy by 2018.

In November 2013, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted the 7th EU Environment Action Programme (7th EAP) to 2020, ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. The 7th EAP is intended to help guide EU action on environment and climate change up to and beyond 2020. It highlights that ‘Action to mitigate and adapt to climate change will increase the resilience of the Union’s economy and society, while stimulating innovation and protecting the Union’s natural resources.’ Consequently, several priority objectives of the 7th EAP refer to climate change adaptation.

Targets

No targets have been specified.

Related policy documents

  • 7th Environment Action Programme
    DECISION No 1386/2013/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. In November 2013, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted the 7 th EU Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. This programme is intended to help guide EU action on the environment and climate change up to and beyond 2020 based on the following vision: ‘In 2050, we live well, within the planet’s ecological limits. Our prosperity and healthy environment stem from an innovative, circular economy where nothing is wasted and where natural resources are managed sustainably, and biodiversity is protected, valued and restored in ways that enhance our society’s resilience. Our low-carbon growth has long been decoupled from resource use, setting the pace for a safe and sustainable global society.’
  • Climate-ADAPT: Mainstreaming adaptation in EU sector policies
    Overview of EU sector policies in which mainstreaming of adaptation to climate change is ongoing or explored
  • Climate-ADAPT: National adaptation strategies
    Overview of activities of EEA member countries in preparing, developing and implementing adaptation strategies
  • DG CLIMA: Adaptation to climate change
    Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise. It has been shown that well planned, early adaptation action saves money and lives in the future. This web portal provides information on all adaptation activities of the European Commission.
  • EU Adaptation Strategy Package
    In April 2013, the European Commission adopted an EU strategy on adaptation to climate change, which has been welcomed by the EU Member States. The strategy aims to make Europe more climate-resilient. By taking a coherent approach and providing for improved coordination, it enhances the preparedness and capacity of all governance levels to respond to the impacts of climate change.

Key policy question

What is the trend in extreme wind speeds across Europe?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Ensemble mean of changes in extreme wind speed (defined as the 98th percentile of daily maximum wind speed) for A1B (2071–2100) relative to 1961–2000. Statistical significance above 0.95 is shown by black dots.

Methodology for gap filling

To accurately assess trends in extreme winds at local scales, high-resolution datasets are required. These climatological datasets are compiled from the observation networks from countries and additional data from regional observations networks. As some countries do not share all of their datasets, the spatial and temporal coverage of the European dataset, and consequently the accuracy of past trends, varies across Europe.

However, even where sufficient data are available, several problems can limit their use for analysis. These problems are mainly connected with 1) limitations of distributing data in high spatial and temporal resolution by many countries, 2) unavailability of data in easy-to-use digital format, and lack of data homogeneity. 

Methodology references

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

See under "Methodology".

Data sets uncertainty

A dense network of stations across the globe, and particularly in Europe, now provide regular monitoring of key atmospheric climate variables, using standardised measurements, quality control and homogeneity procedures at European level. However, even where sufficient data are available, several problems can limit their use for analysis. These problems are mainly connected with 1) limitations of distributing data in high spatial and temporal resolution by many countries, 2) unavailability of data in easy-to-use digital format, and lack of data homogeneity. The situation in Europe is improving since several EU-funded projects (such as ECA&D and EURO4M) have started to collect, digitalise and homogenise additional time series of the essential climate variables. In addition, EUMETNET  initiated an optional programme, EUMETGRID , which aims to develop and maintain a sustainable common data infrastructure for access to and distribution of gridded climate information in Europe and establish recommendations of best practices for establishing national and European gridded datasets.

Rationale uncertainty

See under "Methodology".

Further work

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.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Blaz Kurnik

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
CLIM 005
Specification
Link: storms-2
Version id: 1

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 4 years

Classification

DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)

Related content

Data references used

Latest figures and vizualizations

Relevant policy documents

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