Europees Milieuagentschap voorspelt blijvende klimaatverandering in Europa (en)

Met dank overgenomen van EUobserver (EUOBSERVER) i, gepubliceerd op donderdag 19 augustus 2004, 9:59.
Auteur: | By Lisbeth Kirk

While clean-up operations continued in the flooded Cornish village Boscastle in the UK and Paris's parks were shut due to violent summer storms, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published a disturbing new report on weather patterns in Europe.

Europe is warming up more quickly than the rest of the world and cold winters could disappear almost entirely by 2080 as a result of global warming, the Copenhagen-based EU agency said in a 107-page long report on Wednesday (18 August).

The global average temperature has increased by about 0.7 °C while the European average temperature has gone up by 0.95 °C in the last hundred years, the EU agency said.

It is estimated that temperatures will further increase by 1.4-5.8 °C globally and 2.0-6.3 °C in Europe by the year 2100, the report estimated.

The consequences are enormous and the report draws a grim picture for the future.

Sea level rising

Satellite observations have shown that the total area of Arctic sea ice continuously decreased by at least 7.4 percent over the period from 1978 to 2003 and that sea levels have risen.

It is very likely that the glacier retreat will continue. By 2050, about 75% of the glaciers in the Swiss Alps are likely to have disappeared.

Snowfall in lower mountain areas will become increasingly unpredictable and unreliable over the coming decades, the report said.

As a consequence, nearly half of all ski resorts in Switzerland, and even more in Germany, Austria and the Pyrenees, will face difficulties in attracting tourists and winter sport enthusiasts in the future, the EEA predicts.

Climate related disastrous events doubled

The annual average number of weather and climate related disastrous events in Europe doubled in the 1990s compared with the previous decade, while non-climatic events, such as earthquakes, remained stable, the report said.

Most Europeans still remember the heat wave in 2003 with high temperatures and droughts in large parts of Europe. More than 20,000 deaths, many of them elderly, were recorded during the heat wave. The total harvest in the EU of most cash crops dropped substantially.

Also fresh in memory is the disastrous flooding in central Europe in August 2002 which Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and Hungary very hard. The flooding killed about 80 people in 11 countries, affected more than 600,000 and caused huge economic losses.

In Europe, economic losses caused by weather and climate related events have increased during the last 20 years from an annual average of less than USD 5 billion to about USD 11, the report said.

Greenhouse gas emissions blamed

Greenhouse gas emissions are pointed to as the main reason for the climate changes.

But even if society substantially reduces its emissions of greenhouse gases over the coming decades, the climate system is projected to continue to change over the coming centuries, the report concluded.

"Europe has to continue to lead worldwide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but this report also underlines that strategies are needed, at European, regional, national and local level, to adapt to climate change", said the EEA's executive director, Professor Jacqueline McGlade, according to the BBC.

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