Climate change impacts

 

Climate change is one of the most pressing environmental issues today. Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems. Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks (IPCC Climate Change Synthesis report, 2014).

 


 

 

 

 

 

Key observed and projected impacts from climate change for the main regions in Europe. Source: EEA

Current impacts of climate change in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) are also evident and are expected to emerge also in the future.

Baltadapt project developed series of short bulletins on the impact of climate change on the Baltic Sea. Each issue reviews the expected impacts on one selected indicator, such as air temperature, sea level rise or eutrophication. Baltadapt Climate Info bulletins can be found here.

Continental region

Increase in heat extremes

Decrease in summer precipitation

Increasing risk of river floods

Increasing risk of forest fires

Decrease in economic value of forests

Increase in energy demand for cooling

Atlantic region

Increase in heavy precipitation events

Increase in river flow

Increasing risk of river and coastal flooding

Increasing damage risk from winter storms

Decrease in energy demand for heating

Increase in multiple climatic hazards

Arctic region

Temperature rise much larger than global average

Decrease in Arctic sea ice coverage

Decrease in Greenland ice sheet

Decrease in permafrost areas

Increasing risk of biodiversity loss

Some new opportunities for the exploitation of natural resources and for sea transportation

Risks to the livelihoods of indigenous peoples

Boreal region

Increase in heavy precipitation events

Decrease in snow, lake and river ice cover

Increase in precipitation and river flows

Increasing potential for forest growth and increasing risk of forest pests

Increasing damage risk from winter storms

Increase in crop yields

Decrease in energy demand for heating

Increase in hydropower potential

Increase in summer tourism

Mountain regions

Temperature rise larger than European average

Decrease in glacier extent and volume

Upward shift of plant and animal species

High risk of species extinctions

Increasing risk of forest pests

Increasing risk from rock falls and landslides

Changes in hydropower potential

Decrease in ski tourism

Mediterranean region

Large increase in heat extremes

Decrease in precipitation and river flow

Increasing risk of droughts

Increasing risk of biodiversity loss

Increasing risk of forest fires

Increased competition between different water users

Increasing water demand for agriculture

Decrease in crop yields

Increasing risks for livestock production

Increase in mortality from heat waves

Expansion of habitats for southern disease vectors

Decreasing potential for energy production

Increase in energy demand for cooling

Decrease in summer tourism and potential increase in other seasons

Increase in multiple climatic hazards

Most economic sectors negatively affected

High vulnerability to spillover effects of climate change from outside Europe

Coastal zones and regional seas

Sea level rise

Increase in sea surface temperatures

Increase in ocean acidity

Northward migration of marine species

Risks and some opportunities for fisheries

Changes in phytoplankton communities

Increasing number of marine dead zones

Increasing risk of water-borne diseases

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