Tech UPTechnologyThis will be the Europe of climate change

This will be the Europe of climate change

(production: Ramiro Angulo)

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has just published a series of maps showing the risks of suffering from different events related to climate change, such as droughts, floods or forest fires. To make them, the experts have been based on a multitude of data and indicators published in various EEA reports that show different scenarios depending on the level of emissions.

In them, the user can navigate and know in detail how these extreme events will affect specific towns or cities, which will become more and more frequent in the coming years. “There will be very negative impacts on ecosystems, economic sectors and the health and well-being of human populations,” explains the EEA report. “Therefore, minimizing the risks of global climate change requires specific actions to adapt to its impacts, in addition to initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The adaptation must go according to the specific circumstances in different regions and cities of Europe ”. And, as seen in the different risk maps, each area will be affected differently by extreme events.


The Iberian Peninsula, at risk of desertification

According to forecasts, the south of the continent will suffer more and more droughts, and the Iberian Peninsula will be the most affected area. So much so, that the EEA dedicates a special section for the detailed analysis of the risk of desertification in Spain and Portugal. The fact is that, in a scenario of high emissions, practically the entire surface of the peninsula will be more likely to increase the frequency of droughts.

Due to desertification, access to the water needed to supply agriculture, tourism and industry will be more difficult and expensive , and according to the EEA, by the year 2100 many farms and livestock will suffer considerable economic losses as a result of the impact of the drought.


Forest fires

As we have already seen in the last year with the serious fires suffered in different parts of the planet, fire is another of the variables that will be present even in the most optimistic emission scenarios. Although the absolute risk of fires will continue to be higher in southern Europe, in recent years large forest fires have affected areas that were not so used to fire (it should be remembered the serious fires in Sweden in 2018) and, according to the EEA, central and western Europe will experience a considerable increase in fire risk.


Rain, Floods, and Sea Level Rise

Climate change is not always associated with decreased rainfall, but in many regions more episodes of heavy rain will be experienced, which, in turn, can lead to flooding. In central and eastern Europe the probability of suffering these events will increase by 35%, while in the south there is talk of 25%.

Another factor that can increase the risk of flooding is the rise in sea level, which will obviously be more noticeable in coastal areas. The special report on oceans of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted, for a low emissions scenario, a rise in sea level during the 21st century of between 0.29 and 0.59 meters. In a scenario of high emissions, we would speak of an increase of between 0.61 and 1.10 meters.

For Europe, the forecasts are similar to this world average, with the exception of certain areas of the Baltic Sea and the North Atlantic coast. If we look at Spain, the Levante area would be the one experiencing the greatest increase in the risk of flooding.


Agriculture will have to adapt

Agricultural production is already being affected by changes in rainfall patterns, temperature patterns, and recurrent droughts. Experts insist that, in addition to taking measures to mitigate climate change, we must now think about adaptation.

The EEA is clear in this sense and shows two maps in two scenarios: with adaptation measures and without them, and it is clear how some areas could even see their benefits increased if they manage to acclimate to these changes.

“Farmers can limit the adverse impacts and take advantage of the beneficial effects of climate change through appropriate measures, such as adapting crop varieties, changing planting dates and improving irrigation,” says the report.


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