Europeans should gird for extreme weather

Thinking of fleeing to Europe to escape the record-breaking severe weather in the U.S.? You’re not likely to find a reprieve from climate change there, either. 

Floods, droughts and heatwaves in European cities will be more severe and strike more frequently than scientists previously realized, a new analysis  for 571 cities across the continent found. 

Heatwaves will be longer and hotter in all European cities, especially in the south, while temperatures are likely to rise the most in the central part of the continent, the researchers from Newcastle University in the U.K. found. Northern cities are projected to experience the biggest rise in flooding. Most cities in Europe are also expected to experience more frequent droughts and river flooding in what researchers called a “high impact” scenario. 

“The research highlights the urgent need to design and adapt our cities to cope with these future conditions,” Richard Dawson, co-author and lead investigator of the study, said in a statement. He pointed to already worsening conditions in some cities, like flooding in Paris, and warned that scenarios like the ongoing drought in Cape Town, South Africa may soon be familiar to Europeans.

In trying to forecast how cities across Europe will be affected, the researchers predict that flooding will worsen the most in Dublin, Ireland; Helsinki, Finland; Riga, Latvia; Vilnius, Lithuania; and Zagreb, Croatia. Heatwaves are likely to become longer and hotter in Athens, Greece; Nicosia, Cyprus; Prague, Czech Republic; Rome, Italy; Sofia, Bulgaria; Stockholm, Sweden; Valletta, Malta; and Vienna, Austria. And drought is projected to get more severe in Athens, Greece; Lisbon, Portugal; Madrid, Spain, Nicosia, Sofia and Valletta. 

The analysis, published in the academic journal “Environmental Research Letters,” used 50 climate models to assess what happens if global carbon emissions aren’t seriously cut as population rises. The research outlines high, medium and low impact scenarios.

The study’s worst-case scenario, based on a 2011 analysis, uses factors like income growth and energy demand to help forecast greenhouse gas emissions. It implies global temperatures could rise by 2.6 degrees Celsius (about 4.68 degrees Fahrenheit ) to 4.8 degrees Celsius (8.28 degrees Fahrenheit) on average by 2050-2100, compared with the 50-year period from 1850-1900.  

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