Key Message Published 18 Feb 2015
Image copyright: Billy Horan/EEA
Global climate change impacts Europe in many ways, including: changes in average and extreme temperature and precipitation, warmer oceans, rising sea level and shrinking snow and ice cover on land and at sea. These have led to a range of impacts on ecosystems, socio-economic sectors and human health.

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Global and European temperature Global Three independent long records of global average near-surface (land and ocean) annual temperature show that the decade between 2004 and 2013 was 0.75 °C to 0.81 °C warmer than the pre-industrial average. The rate of change in global average temperature has been close to the indicative limit of 0.2°C per decade in recent decades. Variations of global mean near-surface temperature on decadal time scales are strongly influenced by natural factors. Over the last 10-15 years global near-surface temperature rise has been slower than in previous decades. This recent slow-down in surface warming is due in roughly equal measure to reduced radiative forcing from natural factors (volcanic eruptions and solar activity) and to a cooling contribution from internal variability within the climate system (the redistribution of heat to the deeper ocean). The Arctic region has warmed significantly more rapidly than the global mean, and this pattern is projected to continue into the future. The best estimate for further rises in global average temperature over this century is from 1.0 to 3.7°C above the period 1971-2000 for the lowest and highest representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios. The uncertainty ranges for the lowest and highest RCP are 0.3–1.7°C and 2.6–4.8°C, respectively. The EU and UNFCCC target of limiting global average temperature increase to less than 2°C above the pre-industrial levels is projected to be exceeded between 2042 and 2050 by the three highest of the four IPCC scenarios (RCPs). Europe Annual average temperature across the European land areas has warmed more than global average temperature, and slightly more than global land temperature. The average temperature for the European land area for the last decade (2004–2013) is 1.3°C above the pre-industrial level, which makes it the warmest decade on record. Annual average land temperature over Europe is projected to continue increasing by more than global average temperature over the rest of this century, by around 2.4 °C and 4.1 °C under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 respectively. 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 the frequency of hot days almost tripled.

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