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Global warming and drought impacts in the EU

Source(s):  European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC)

This study shows that hydrological drought intensity and frequency is expected to increase with global warming in south-western parts of Europe, whereas an opposite signal is projected for north-eastern Europe. Hence, climate change could further polarize current water availability and drought conditions in Europe.

An analysis of drought records of Munich Re’s NatCatSERVICE disaster database over the period 1990-2016, together with reports of the European Drought Impact report Inventory and grey literature estimates, suggest a likely strong underestimation of impacts in drought loss records. The authors estimated annual economic losses for the recent past (1981-2010) of 9.0€billion/year for the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) (confidence range 7.4-14.2€billon/year), compared to 1.3 €billion/year of reported losses in NatCatSERVICE.

This document further reports that drought losses are highest for the agriculture, public water supply and energy sector. These sectors will remain to be the most affected, notwithstanding that the share of agricultural losses in the total drought damages will reduce. The impacts in the transport sector, which include only the disruption of river navigation and reduced cargo-carrying capacity of vessels, are limited compared to the other sectors but could be still relevant at a regional scale.

The authors argue that there is a wide range of measures to increase resilience to droughts, which differ among the sectors potentially affected. These include, among others, insurance and other market tools, improved water use efficiency in various sectors, reduction of water leakages from the distribution networks, use of regenerated water, seawater desalinized with renewable energies, improved water harvesting techniques.



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  • Global warming and drought impacts in the EU
  • Publication date 2020
  • Author(s) Cammalleri, Carmelo; Naumann, Gustavo; Mentaschi Lorenzo et al.
  • Number of pages 25 p.
  • ISBN/ISSN 978-92-76-12947-9 (ISBN) 1831-9424 (ISSN)

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