With global warming, droughts will become more frequent, last longer and become more intense in Europe, according to the final report of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission.
The total economic losses from drought in Europe would grow from 9.4 billion Euros per year to 45 billion Euros per year in 2100, the report said.
Human mortality from heat and cold waves
About a hundred million Europeans would be exposed each year to an intense heat wave or tenfold compared to now with 1.5°C around. This could further grow to 170 million per year with 2°C. Further to about 300 million per year, or more than half of the EU and UK population, with 3°C global warming, the report said.
The EU report also stated that the rise in exposure to extreme heat is most severe in southern Europe. The report also noted that annual fatalities from extreme heat could rise from 2,700 deaths per year now to about 30,000 and 50,000 by 2050 with 1.5°C and 2°C warming. The numbers could reach 90,000 fatalities with 3°C in 2100. Stating that southern European countries will see more fatalities, the EU report said that France, Italy and Spain will see the highest fatalities.
The report further notes that increasing urbanisation could amplify the urban heat island effect.
The southern and western regions of Europe will see more droughts. They will happen more frequently, last longer and become more intense. On the other hand, drought conditions will become less extreme in northern and north-eastern parts of Europe. The Mediterranean region is likely to see an increase in drought with global warming. The report also projected that 15 per cent of the Atlantic region will see droughts as often with unmitigated climate change. The report also said that the rise in damage in 2100 would be approximately halved compared to no mitigation.
“The Mediterranean and Atlantic regions see the largest rise in drought losses from global warming. Their share in the total EU and UK drought losses progressively increases with warming and would grow to 86% with 3°C warming,” the report said.
Windstorms are the most damaging natural hazards in Europe, with about five billion Euros of estimated annual losses in the EU and UK. The study projections say that windstorms will not happen more frequently or become more intense with global warming over European land. It said that the maximum wind speeds will likely reduce over 16 per cent of the land area with 3°C warming. With this three degree warming temperature, the windstorms will increase over nearly 10 per cent and remain relatively stable over the rest of Europe. Southern Europe will see an increase of windstorms. Central-western Europe will have less intense wind extremes.
The report also projected the windstorm annual losses to grow to nearly 7 billion Euros per year in 2050 and to 11 billion Euros per year by the end of the century.
The EU report states that global warming will bring more wetting of the north of Europe and a drying spell in the south. This means the north will have increased water availability than the South. It also pointed out that the duration and intensity of water scare regions in Southern Europe will only grow in the coming days. Western parts and higher altitudes will have a drop in water in summer seasons. The number of people living in severe water stress areas is now around 3.3 million. This could become fourfold with unmitigated climate, the report warned.
River flood damage in the Union will be six times by the end of the century with three degrees of global warming. The report notes that flooding will affect half a million people each year, compared to 170,000 now.
The report warns that sea levels could rise by as much as one metre or more by the end of the century because of global warming. All the European countries with a coastline will see an increase of damages from flooding. The annual economic damage would grow to 239 billion Euros by 2100 and the population exposed to coastal flooding would reach 2.2 million.
The probability of high-to-extreme wildfire danger is projected to rise nearly everywhere in Europe as a result of changing weather conditions, the European Union said in the report. Southern European countries are known to come across more wildfires.