The 4th edition of the European Environment Agency’s report on “Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe” was published in January 2017. This report, which is published every 4 years, is an indicator-based assessment of past and projected climate change and its impacts on ecosystems and society. It also looks at society’s vulnerability to these impacts and at the development of adaptation policies and the underlying knowledge base. This edition aims to support the implementation and review process of the 2013 EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change (COM/2013/0216), which is foreseen for 2018, and the development of national and transnational adaptation strategies and plans. This edition also includes a new section on the vulnerability of ecosystems and their services.
What are the main results related to mountains?
The report studies adaptation and vulnerability of the European macro-regions, including the Pyrenees (based on the OPCC’s results), the Alps (based on the Alpine Convention and EUSALP’s results) and the Carpathians (based on the Carpathian Convention results). Key findings in climate change in mountainous regions relate to the change of weather patterns (rise of temperatures, decrease of snow cover, increase of extreme weather events and especially hail) and loss of biodiversity, especially in the Alps which were recognised as a European hotspot for ecosystem services. The increase of extreme weather events is expected to threaten particularly infrastructure on one hand, compromising energy delivery and transport services, but also to increase slope instability on the other hand with the same effects. Changing river flow regimes because of glacier melt and less snow fall threatens agriculture, hydropower potential and winter tourism.
This EEA report in an indicator-based assessment of the current situation in Europe, it does not bring forward any adaptation solutions and the impact these may have. For examples of adaptation solutions to climate change in mountain areas, please see the good practices presented in October 2016 during the X° European Mountain Convention (Bragança, Portugal).
However, the report also points out the knowledge gaps identified by the European Commission in 2014 concerning climate change adaptation, grouped in 8 priority areas among which regional- and local-level adaptation. This priority states that: “Vulnerable European regions and systems need enhanced approaches, including topics such as mountains and their influence regions; the Mediterranean region, a climate change hotspot in all existing evaluations; European coastal areas; international rivers and their catchment areas; urban areas, including their wider metropolitan belts; rural areas and their societies; and islands and outermost regions.” According to the EEA report, Horizon 2020 and other EU-funded instruments such as LIFE Climate Action already address several of these gaps (mountains are target areas in the call for nature-based solutions for resilience for instance) but there is a need for more national research programmes. The Mountain Research Institute has published a Strategic Research Agenda to provide further inputs to the Horizon 2020 work programmes and calls 2018-2020.
European platforms with examples of climate change adaptation
This report related to another EEA report published in 2015 “Overview of climate change adaptation platforms in Europe”. If you are interested in finding out about case studies and good practices on climate change adaptation in Europe, you can visit (not mountain-specific but some case studies are located in mountain areas):
- the European Climate Adaptation Platform hosted by the EEA,
- the European Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community (Climate-KIC) case studies,
- the Joint Programming Initiative “Connecting Climate Knowledge for Europe” (JPI Climate) intergovernmental initiative
For more information
- Key-findings of the report on “Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe”
- Overview of climate change adaptation platforms in Europe
Euromontana’s work on climate change
- The Bragança Declaration
- The presentations from the Climate Change Observatory of the Pyrenees, the Alpine Convention and the Carpathian Convention during the European Mountain Convention on the theme of climate change in October 2016