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Extreme weather events pose an increased risk to nature, buildings, infrastructure, and human health. These events, expected to increase in frequency and intensity because of climate change, are already causing substantial damage and loss. We must adapt and prepare for life in a changing climate.
Heatwaves, droughts, other extreme weather events increasingly influencing adaptation policies
Extreme weather: what to expect?
Weather-related hazards facing the EU in the coming decades can be groupes as follow:
- Hot and cold: Mean air temperature will rise steadily across Europe.
- Wet and dry: Changes in rainfall are expected to differ considerably throughout Europe, with heavy rain in the North, more extremes in Central Europe, and a greater risk of drought in the South
- Wind: Storm intensity is projected to increase across Europe, but changes in the frequency are projected to differ across regions.
- Snow and ice: Snowfall is projected to decrease in central and southern Europe, whereas mixed changes are anticipated for northern Europe.
- Coastal regions: Sea levels will rise in all areas except the northern Baltic Sea.
- Open ocean: Sea surface temperature is projected to increase in all European seas, with associated increases in marine heatwaves. Europe’s seas are also expected to become more acidic.
Heatwaves: A matter of life and death for vulnerable people
Heatwaves and extreme cold spells have a massive effect on public health. Extreme heat is closely linked to higher death rates and hospital admissions and generally affects the well-being and productivity of workers.
The most significant effect of heat is on the elderly, but in some cities, younger adults have also been affected. Older people are more vulnerable to the impacts of heatwaves due to poorer physical health and understanding of health risks.
In addition to the elderly, those with chronic diseases and persons of lower socio-economic status also have a heightened risk of dying from heatwaves.