Europe’s environmental outlook for the next century darkened Monday with the release of a climate change study projecting the continent would suffer more from global warming than other parts of the world.
If Greenland and Arctic ice sheets continue to melt, four million Europeans could be at risk
A report by the European Environment Agency released on Monday, Sept 29, showed Europe was already creaking under the weight of environmental shifts with annual precipitation changes exacerbating differences between a wet Northern part of Europe and a dry South.
Some Mediterranean regions already receive 20 percent less rain than a century ago, the report said, increasing the risk of forest fires and the desertification of the region.
The report labelled glacier retreat in Europe a double-edged sword, projecting an overall increase in river floods across Europe, but also an increase in river droughts in the south.
"Uncertainty in the rate of melting of Greenland's outlet glaciers makes projections of future sea level rise uncertain," the report said, adding that according to satellite observations the global sea level had risen by as much as 3.1 mm a year in the past 15 years.
Europe a global warming hot spot
Europe is set to struggle under increasing temperatures caused by global warming
The report highlighted the widespread vulnerability of Europe to global warming-induced climate change, with mountainous regions, coastal zones, the Mediterranean and the Arctic set to shoulder the lion's share of the environmental burden.
"Global average temperature has increased almost 0.8 of a degree above pre-industrial levels, with even higher temperature increases in Europe and northern latitudes," the report said. Europe has warmed by 1 degree.
The report's authors said mitigation and adaptation measures against climate change needed to be more widespread in Europe and that today's efforts focus only on flood management and defense.
They also recommended the creation of a European Clearing House on climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to make climate change data widely available.