Thursday, April 11, 2019

How Has Climate Change Affected Europe?


-by Michelle Schlechtriem

There is no way around the fact that the climate is changing and that extreme weather events are occurring more and more often. In 2018, Europe saw its most extreme weather events with record heat and precipitation across the continent.

Now, in the beginning of 2019, record daily winter temperatures have been measured in several European countries. The UK, for example, saw record-breaking temperatures which hadn’t been this high in the last 122 years. Additionally, the UK experienced its hottest February in history. It is important to note that it would be naive to say that climate change has specifically been causing these extreme events. However, according to climate scientists, climate change is only pushing towards one direction-- towards higher temperatures.

Now, in order to get an overall idea of how climate change has been affecting Europe, GreenMatch has conducted a comprehensive study, looking into various climate change trends in 32 European countries. The study looks into changes in sea- and surface temperatures, sea levels, and precipitation-- indicators for measuring climate change as recommended by the World Meteorological Organization. The results of the study have been illustrated in the map below, where a country score of 0 stands for the least and 100 for the most affected by climate change.

By moving your mouse over the countries on the map, you can see the exact results per indicator, as well as the countries’ specific score. The data shows that Lithuania, Finland, and Latvia are the European countries which have been affected the most by climate change. Whereas climate change has affected Iceland, Greece, and Norway the least. According to GreenMatch’s study, Lithuania and Latvia saw specifically high rises in sea levels, with an increase of more than 4 mm per year between 1970 and 2015. Finland, on the other hand, has been seeing a decrease in sea levels. However, this could be explained by the Fennoscandian land uplift, which has been occurring in Finland for centuries. Surface temperature increased by 0.325°C in both Lithuania and Latvia, and by 0.314°C in Finland. Finally, the changes in sea temperature and precipitation was the same in all three countries, with 0.73°C and 20 mm respectively.

Iceland, as well as Norway, experienced an increased surface temperature of 0.275°C per decade, whereas Greece’s change in surface temperature was the lowest of all European countries, with a slight increase of 0.075°C per decade. Furthermore, Iceland saw the lowest change in sea temperatures, with an increase of only 0.208°C between 1960 and 2014. Sea temperatures in Norway increased by 0.439°C per decade, and in Greece by 0.706°C per decade. Furthermore, precipitation in both Iceland and Norway increased immensely, with 35 mm and 37.5 mm respectively per decade, whereas Greece experienced a decrease of 20 mm per decade. Finally, the Greek sea levels increased by 2.01 mm per year, whereas Iceland and Norway saw a slight increase of 1.31 mm and 0.25 mm, respectively.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, a way to reflect on the global influence of climate change on extreme events is to use consistent and meaningful indicators. Therefore, in order to get an overall understanding of how the European climate has been changing throughout the years, GreenMatch decided to look into the occurrence of extreme events, too. The map below shows how many extreme events each European country has experienced between 1960 and 2019.

This data shows that France has experienced the most extreme events between 1960 and 2019, whereas Iceland, Finland, and Estonia have experienced the least. While Iceland only experienced a single flood during this period, there was a total of 131 extreme events in France. However, since the study has been looking into the trends surrounding various climate indicators and extreme events, the following graph shows the trends of extreme events in Europe:

The data shows an immense increase of storms in Europe around the early 90s, with a total of 66 storms. Furthermore, as we can see from the graph, Europe started seeing a lot more extreme events after 1990, particularly droughts and extreme temperatures. As mentioned before, we can’t indicate any direct correlation between the number of extreme events and climate change effects. However, this study has shown on which European countries climate change has been having the largest impacts, and that these countries are not necessarily the countries with most natural disasters. Yet, the increase in various climate change indicators as well as the increase in the number of extreme events in Europe clearly show us that the climate has been changing throughout the last decades.

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At 5:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The EU remains under the thumb of Uncle $cam. Until the enforcers left behind to ensure no EU nation tries to break away from American hegemony are sent home, they will be dragged down the climate abyss with the US.

At 6:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is actually better news than it could be.

There still remains the possibility that ocean currents may change. In that case, the moderating influence of the gulf stream could end and plunge Europe into the kind of weather that central Canada has.

But it would still be consequences of climate change.

We can all bitch about how stupid americans are and how we'll never ever EVER do thing 1 about it, which is true.

But Europe isn't going to fix it either.

Nothing will fix it. It's already too late.


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