Multi-hazard assessment in Europe under a future climate

Down-scaled 50 years return wind speed (m s**-2)at 10 meter. From Outten and Esau, 2013.Dr. Stephen Outten.Nansen Center scientist Dr. Stephen Outten contributes to the paper Multi-hazard assessment in Europe under climate change recently accepted in Climate Change, assessing the impact of multiple environmental hazards in Europe under a future climate. Dr. Outten's contribution is related to changes in the extreme surface winds, and is based on results developed from previous studies of extreme winds in Europe using regional climate model projections (Outten and Esau, 2013).

The multi-hazard paper also addresses the impacts of the frequency of heat and cold waves, river and coastal flooding, streamflow droughts and wildfires in Europe under the timeframe of the 21st century. The paper “Multi-hazard assessment in Europe under Climate Change” is lead by Dr. Giovanni Forzieri the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission in Ispra, Italy with contributions for several other European scientists and institutions. The results will be presented at the European Geophysical Union General Assembly in Vienna this week and addressed at the EGU press conference on hazards.

Reported losses of weather-related hazards are at historically high levels, climate change is likely to enhance the risks posed by extreme weather events. Several regions are likely to be exposed to multiple climate hazards, yet their modeling in a joint scheme is still in the early stages. A multi-hazard framework to map exposure to multiple climate extremes in Europe throughout the twenty-first century is presented in the paper. Using an ensemble of climate projections, changes in the frequency of heat and cold waves, river and coastal flooding, streamflow droughts, wildfires and windstorms are evaluated. Corresponding variations in expected annual exposure allow for a quantitative comparison of hazards described by different process characteristics and metrics. Projected changes in exposure depict important variations in hazard scenarios, especially those linked to rising temperatures, and spatial patterns largely modulated by local climate conditions.

Results show that Europe will likely face a progressive increase in overall climate related hazard with a prominent spatial gradient towards south-western regions mainly driven by the rise of heat waves, droughts and wildfires. Key hotspots emerge particularly along coastlines and in floodplains, often highly populated and economically pivotal locations, where floods and windstorms could be critical in combination with other climate hazards.

Projected increases in exposure will be larger for very extreme events due to their pronounced changes in frequency. Results of this appraisal provide useful input for forthcoming European disaster risk and adaptation policy.


Citation: Giovanni Forzieri, Luc Feyen, Simone Russo, Michalis Vousdoukas, Lorenzo Alfieri, Stephen Outten, Mirco Migliavacca, Alessandra Bianchi, Rodrigo Rojas and Alba Cid (in press): Multi-hazard assessment in Europe under climate change. Climatic Change. DOI 10.1007/s10584-016-1661-x

Outten_Esau_2013_acp_wind.pdf973.68 KB
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Giovanni_etal_2016_cc_MultiHaz.pdf1.47 MB