This study arises from the concern that changes in weather patterns will be one of the principal effects of climate change and with these will come extreme weather, which is of considerable consequence in Europe as it impacts on the vulnerability of communities across the continent and exposes them to environmental risks. It is focused on providing a working-level assessment of the current state of the quantitative understanding of relevant extreme weather phenomena and their impacts. It is intended to provide a handy tool for policy makers to whom the background science may not be immediately accessible.
The report starts with a description of the way in which extreme weather phenomena are characterised, in particular through the use of statistics. Subsequent chapters then describe the state of knowledge about the key extreme weather phenomena (extreme heat and cold, extremes of precipitation, wind storms, lightning and hailstorms), the impacts they have and some of the broad approaches that have been taken, within sectors and at different geographic scales, to reduce these impacts through adaptation measures. In a final chapter we consider the particular case of adaptation within European agriculture. The report concludes with a summary of major findings and some broad recommendations for strengthening the information available for decision makers in Europe.