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Europe must prepare for extreme weather events

The Ecologist

2nd December 2013

Europe has to plan for future extreme weather incidents, according to a new report by EASAC. Heat waves, floods and storms do not respect national frontiers, so as climate change gathers place, there is an urgent need for action at both national and EU levels.

Given the tragic events this year in the rest of the world and the recent IPCC report, we feel obliged to draw attention to the growing impact of extreme weather in Europe

Grave economic and social consequences will follow if European policy makers do not use the latest estimates of future droughts, floods and storms in their planning, warns a report published today by EASAC, representing the national science academies of EU Member States. Europe also must invest in adapting to global warming and to the wider climate disruption the warming will cause.

The report, Extreme Weather Events in Europe, advises that Europe has already experienced a 60% rise over the last 30 years in the costs of damage from extreme weather events. "Given the tragic events this year in the rest of the world and the recent IPCC report, we feel obliged to draw attention to the growing impact of extreme weather in Europe", said EASAC President Sir Brian Heap, launching the document.

"From the major loss of lives in heat waves to the economic and human costs of floods and storms, the implications are worrying. They present the European Union and its Member States with significant challenges in preparing Europe for a future with greater frequency of extreme weather.

"In planning to adapt to such a future, it is critical to use the latest scientific knowledge on how different types of extreme events are expected to develop. This depends not only on the type of event but also where in Europe is being considered since the EU's 28 countries and over 500 million population live in very different climate zones, from the Mediterranean sub-tropical to the Arctic."

Five specific areas requiring immediate action driven at the EU level: heat-waves; flood defence and early warning; agriculture; climate research; and adaptation plans. Joint EU action is "essential because these events do not respect national barriers".

Sir Brian also emphasised the need to improve and refine climate models. "Global climate model outputs have proved of immense value in providing the basis for understanding climate and its future. However, there is an urgent need to improve regional climate models to reduce uncertainties and improve projections, for example extreme precipitations or hail storms and other local climatic phenomena such as tornadoes remain imperfectly understood.

"The EU has a critical role in strengthening European climate-research communities and building networks across borders and disciplines to provide the data required for informed future policy-making."


The full report can be downloaded from the EASAC website from 2 December 2013.

EASAC, the European Academies Science Advisory Council, is formed by the national science academies of the EU Member States, to collaborate in giving advice to European policy-makers. EASAC provides a means for the collective voice of European Science to be heard. Through EASAC, the academies work together to provide independent expert, evidence-based advice about the scientific aspects of European policies to those who make or influence policy within the European institutions.



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