Tag Archives: Europe

Climate change is triple risk to Europe

New studies confirm climate change’s triple risk to Europe. The heat is on, lives are at risk and the floods are arriving earlier.

LONDON, 13 August, 2017 – Researchers have just issued three separate climate warnings to the citizens of Europe on the same day, in three different journals – a triple risk salvo  .

One group warns that, if humans go on burning fossil fuels at an ever increasing rate, heatwave temperatures could reach an intolerable 55°C in many parts of the globe, including some parts of continental Europe.

A second study warns that by the century’s end weather-related disasters – floods, heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and windstorms – could claim a 50-fold increase in fatalities, and expose 350 million Europeans to harmful climate extremes every year.

And a third study points out that climate change is already at work: the spring floods in Western Europe now arrive up to 15 days earlier than they did in 1960.

By [2100], the present record-breaking temperatures in southern Europe would be matched or surpassed every year, and climate-related events could deliver more premature deaths than air pollution

Two of the studies are from the European Commission’s joint research centre and the first of these confirms separate research in June and again this month, that murderous levels of heat and humidity could affect many millions if there are no steps to drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that drive global warming and climate change.

But this time the European researchers warn in the journal Scientific Reports that even if the world’s nations do fulfil a promise made in Paris in 2015 to contain global warming to no more than 2°C by 2100, temperatures will almost every year tip to 40°C in many parts of Asia, Australia, North Africa, and both North and South America, and in Europe there will each summer be a 30% probability of similarly strong heatwaves.

And with such high temperatures comes the increased risk of other climate-related disasters. Another team of European researchers warn in the journal Lancet Planetary Health that rising temperatures would bring increasingly dangerous weather extremes.

They analysed 2,300 records of disaster events between 1981 and 2010, assumed that there would be no attempts to adapt or mitigate climate change, and then scaled up the possible casualties eight decades from now.

By then, the present record-breaking temperatures in southern Europe would be matched or surpassed every year, and climate-related events could deliver more premature deaths than air pollution.

Earlier shift

And in the journal Science, researchers from separate institutions across Europe analysed data from 4,200 river-measuring stations in 38 European nations across a 50-year timespan. They also collected information on soil moisture, rain and snowfall and temperature.

In western Europe, 50% of the stations recorded a shift towards earlier floods – up to 15 days earlier – and in northeastern Europe, half of all hydrometric stations recorded an advance in the flood timing of around eight days.

Around the North Sea, half the stations registered floods that came eight days later than in 1960, perhaps because of extreme precipitation during the winter. River flooding is the natural hazard most likely to affect the most people, and now costs the world an estimated $100 bn every year.

The scientists warn that shifts in flood timing could have considerable economic and environmental consequences, and say their continental-wide observations “also enable the identification of a clear climate change signal that could not be obtained by earlier studies based on flood magnitude data.” – Climate News Network

New studies confirm climate change’s triple risk to Europe. The heat is on, lives are at risk and the floods are arriving earlier.

LONDON, 13 August, 2017 – Researchers have just issued three separate climate warnings to the citizens of Europe on the same day, in three different journals – a triple risk salvo  .

One group warns that, if humans go on burning fossil fuels at an ever increasing rate, heatwave temperatures could reach an intolerable 55°C in many parts of the globe, including some parts of continental Europe.

A second study warns that by the century’s end weather-related disasters – floods, heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and windstorms – could claim a 50-fold increase in fatalities, and expose 350 million Europeans to harmful climate extremes every year.

And a third study points out that climate change is already at work: the spring floods in Western Europe now arrive up to 15 days earlier than they did in 1960.

By [2100], the present record-breaking temperatures in southern Europe would be matched or surpassed every year, and climate-related events could deliver more premature deaths than air pollution

Two of the studies are from the European Commission’s joint research centre and the first of these confirms separate research in June and again this month, that murderous levels of heat and humidity could affect many millions if there are no steps to drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that drive global warming and climate change.

But this time the European researchers warn in the journal Scientific Reports that even if the world’s nations do fulfil a promise made in Paris in 2015 to contain global warming to no more than 2°C by 2100, temperatures will almost every year tip to 40°C in many parts of Asia, Australia, North Africa, and both North and South America, and in Europe there will each summer be a 30% probability of similarly strong heatwaves.

And with such high temperatures comes the increased risk of other climate-related disasters. Another team of European researchers warn in the journal Lancet Planetary Health that rising temperatures would bring increasingly dangerous weather extremes.

They analysed 2,300 records of disaster events between 1981 and 2010, assumed that there would be no attempts to adapt or mitigate climate change, and then scaled up the possible casualties eight decades from now.

By then, the present record-breaking temperatures in southern Europe would be matched or surpassed every year, and climate-related events could deliver more premature deaths than air pollution.

Earlier shift

And in the journal Science, researchers from separate institutions across Europe analysed data from 4,200 river-measuring stations in 38 European nations across a 50-year timespan. They also collected information on soil moisture, rain and snowfall and temperature.

In western Europe, 50% of the stations recorded a shift towards earlier floods – up to 15 days earlier – and in northeastern Europe, half of all hydrometric stations recorded an advance in the flood timing of around eight days.

Around the North Sea, half the stations registered floods that came eight days later than in 1960, perhaps because of extreme precipitation during the winter. River flooding is the natural hazard most likely to affect the most people, and now costs the world an estimated $100 bn every year.

The scientists warn that shifts in flood timing could have considerable economic and environmental consequences, and say their continental-wide observations “also enable the identification of a clear climate change signal that could not be obtained by earlier studies based on flood magnitude data.” – Climate News Network

Parts of Europe heating faster than global average

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Climate change hits different regions in different ways and, as Europe’s climate warms, some areas are already having to adapt.  New crops are being planted and there’s a call for buildings that don’t overheat in warm weather. LONDON, 12 September – Temperatures in some parts of Europe have already increased by more than 2C in the last 60 years with changes in local climate allowing new crops to be grown. An example is the new wine growing area in southern England, which this year is celebrating its best ever grape harvest. Hundreds of acres of new vineyards are being planted to take advantage of the changing climate. Many parts of Europe are experiencing more hotter days in the summer and fewer very cold nights in winter. Overall the increase is four times greater than the global average over the 60 year period. Researchers at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, in collaboration with the University of Warwick, show that not all regions are warming at the same pace. The results of their research, which appear in a study in the journal, Environmental Research Letters, indicate that the hottest 5% of days in summer have warmed fastest in a band from southern England and northern France to Denmark. In eastern Spain and central Italy there has been a general warming in all seasons. In some areas, Norway and Sweden for example, the changes have been much smaller in summer and in some cases there have been no measurable differences. However nights in the depths of winter have been getting warmer – by more than 2C in both countries. Professor Sandra Chapman, one of the researchers, said: “It is common to discuss climate change in terms of changes in global average temperatures but these can be far from people’s perceptions of climate change. The results in this paper begin to provide a picture of how local climate has been changing across Europe. It is a picture which is closer to that experienced by individuals.” Among other results the study notes changes in the frequency of nights that fall below freezing in winter, and days which rise above 28C in summer. These, says the study, are two thresholds that are important for many impacts such as the availability of snow in ski resorts, building design, and labour productivity. Dr. David Stainforth, the lead author of the report, said: “Climate is fundamentally the distributions of weather. Our results illustrate that the international goal of limiting the increase in global average temperature to 2°C would involve far greater changes for some places and for some aspects of climate, and therefore for particular individuals, communities and industries. “Changes in local climate pose challenges for decision makers across society not just when preparing for the climate of the future but even when planning for the climate of today. “We need to design buildings so that they don’t overheat, decide which are the best crops to plant, and even plan for variations in large scale productivity. These would all benefit from knowledge of how the climate distribution has changed at particular locations. This work begins to provide such information.” The World Meteorological Organisation and many national organisations, such as the UK Met Office, are investing substantially in the provision of information for governments and businesses to help them to adapt to climate change. The study shows that even over relatively small areas the differences can be quite marked. For example, in the north east of England the number of night frosts in winter has gone down by more than 10%, a greater drop than elsewhere in the country. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Climate change hits different regions in different ways and, as Europe’s climate warms, some areas are already having to adapt.  New crops are being planted and there’s a call for buildings that don’t overheat in warm weather. LONDON, 12 September – Temperatures in some parts of Europe have already increased by more than 2C in the last 60 years with changes in local climate allowing new crops to be grown. An example is the new wine growing area in southern England, which this year is celebrating its best ever grape harvest. Hundreds of acres of new vineyards are being planted to take advantage of the changing climate. Many parts of Europe are experiencing more hotter days in the summer and fewer very cold nights in winter. Overall the increase is four times greater than the global average over the 60 year period. Researchers at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, in collaboration with the University of Warwick, show that not all regions are warming at the same pace. The results of their research, which appear in a study in the journal, Environmental Research Letters, indicate that the hottest 5% of days in summer have warmed fastest in a band from southern England and northern France to Denmark. In eastern Spain and central Italy there has been a general warming in all seasons. In some areas, Norway and Sweden for example, the changes have been much smaller in summer and in some cases there have been no measurable differences. However nights in the depths of winter have been getting warmer – by more than 2C in both countries. Professor Sandra Chapman, one of the researchers, said: “It is common to discuss climate change in terms of changes in global average temperatures but these can be far from people’s perceptions of climate change. The results in this paper begin to provide a picture of how local climate has been changing across Europe. It is a picture which is closer to that experienced by individuals.” Among other results the study notes changes in the frequency of nights that fall below freezing in winter, and days which rise above 28C in summer. These, says the study, are two thresholds that are important for many impacts such as the availability of snow in ski resorts, building design, and labour productivity. Dr. David Stainforth, the lead author of the report, said: “Climate is fundamentally the distributions of weather. Our results illustrate that the international goal of limiting the increase in global average temperature to 2°C would involve far greater changes for some places and for some aspects of climate, and therefore for particular individuals, communities and industries. “Changes in local climate pose challenges for decision makers across society not just when preparing for the climate of the future but even when planning for the climate of today. “We need to design buildings so that they don’t overheat, decide which are the best crops to plant, and even plan for variations in large scale productivity. These would all benefit from knowledge of how the climate distribution has changed at particular locations. This work begins to provide such information.” The World Meteorological Organisation and many national organisations, such as the UK Met Office, are investing substantially in the provision of information for governments and businesses to help them to adapt to climate change. The study shows that even over relatively small areas the differences can be quite marked. For example, in the north east of England the number of night frosts in winter has gone down by more than 10%, a greater drop than elsewhere in the country. – Climate News Network

Solar link will bridge Mediterranean

EMBARGOED until 2300 GMT on Monday 15 April Renewable energy is rapidly becoming a much more serious possibility, as novel technologies come of age and offer the prospect of a new relationship between Africa, the Middle East and Europe. LONDON, 16 April – The world’s largest concentrated solar power plant opened in March in the middle of Abu Dhabi’s western region, amid the country’s giant oil fields. The $600m plant’s hundreds of mirrors direct sunlight towards pipes full of oil to drive steam turbines that in turn provide enough electricity for thousands of homes. In a country whose vast wealth is generated by oil, adopting a new technology that produces only 100 megawatts of power – about a tenth the amount of a large coal-fired plant – may seem a mere token, but it is part of a much larger industrial strategy for the region. Serious money and political clout in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa is aimed at building hundreds of similar plants. The potential is so great that all the electricity requirements of these desert countries – and a good slice of Europe’s – could be met by 2050. European companies are now putting serious investment into a scheme to bring electricity from North Africa across the Mediterranean to their shores.  Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia are among the Saharan countries that could provide all their own power and much of Europe’s.  Morocco and Tunisia are already building plants, and Morocco has an electricity connector to Spain. It has long been known that harnessing the power of the sunlight that shines on a few hundred square miles of desert would be enough to provide electricity for all of mankind’s needs. How to collect the power and transport it was the problem. Now both technical barriers to development have been solved with a variety of schemes. The Abu Dhabi plant that uses mirrors is one of a number of similar ideas that arrange reflectors to concentrate the Sun’s rays to make electricity. Several have now been proved to work commercially – and the price of power continues to come down. These plants are in operation in many sunny parts of the world including California, Spain and Australia.

Night light

  Photo-voltaic cells that make electricity direct from sunlight are even more prevalent, with the price of panels also continuing to fall. Add to the power of sunlight the fact that many desert areas are also windy, and the potential for power production is huge. A factor that has previously worried investors is that even in the desert the Sun does not shine at night, when much of the electricity is needed. To get round that a system has been developed to store excess heat in molten salt and use it to generate electricity after dark. The wind turbines in the desert built alongside the solar arrays would of course continue to pump out power at night. The next problem – how to transport electricity from isolated areas with low populations to the cities that need it – is also solvable. Modern super-conducting cables using direct power can transport electricity across 3,000 kilometres, losing only 3% of their power per 1,000 kilometres. These cables, developed in Europe, are not theoretical: they are already in use in China. Super-conductors could be laid across the Mediterranean so that North African sunshine could power Europe. The organization that aims to create a super-grid across North Africa, the Middle East and Europe to utilize this resource, Dii, accepts that the problems are not just technical but also political. Some of the countries with the greatest solar resource that would need to be connected to each other to make maximum gains from the technology are not good friends.

Local use comes first

  This would make a super-grid difficult to construct, and electricity supplies liable to disruption if disputes broke out. Power plants would also be easy targets for terrorists. There are other political sensitivities. The European Union, and particularly Germany, which is very keen on the idea of exploiting this renewable resource, are anxious that Africa and the Middle East should feel ownership of the projects rather than that they are being leant on to cooperate. European politicians feel it is important that these countries should also be the first to get the benefit of the solar power stations with the electricity being used locally, and only surpluses exported across the Mediterranean. There are now 36 partners in the Dii project, with most of the money and expertise coming from Germany and other large European manufacturers. According to the German Aerospace Centre, investment would need to be €400 billion by 2050 in plants and transmission lines to realize the dream of providing the entire electricity supply for North Africa and 15% of Europe’s needs. Studies have shown that even with transmission losses it is cheaper to construct solar plants in North Africa than in southern Europe. This is partly because the Sun shines from 3,000 to 3,500 hours a year, with greater intensity than in Europe, but also because there are large tracts of unused land for the construction of fields of mirrors or lenses to concentrate the solar rays. Lack of water to clean the mirrors, and for cooling, is one of the technical problems still to be overcome. But like all newer renewable technologies, the cost of concentrated solar power is expected to fall because of mass production and to be considerably cheaper than rivals like nuclear power. What is needed is the political will to make it work. – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 2300 GMT on Monday 15 April Renewable energy is rapidly becoming a much more serious possibility, as novel technologies come of age and offer the prospect of a new relationship between Africa, the Middle East and Europe. LONDON, 16 April – The world’s largest concentrated solar power plant opened in March in the middle of Abu Dhabi’s western region, amid the country’s giant oil fields. The $600m plant’s hundreds of mirrors direct sunlight towards pipes full of oil to drive steam turbines that in turn provide enough electricity for thousands of homes. In a country whose vast wealth is generated by oil, adopting a new technology that produces only 100 megawatts of power – about a tenth the amount of a large coal-fired plant – may seem a mere token, but it is part of a much larger industrial strategy for the region. Serious money and political clout in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa is aimed at building hundreds of similar plants. The potential is so great that all the electricity requirements of these desert countries – and a good slice of Europe’s – could be met by 2050. European companies are now putting serious investment into a scheme to bring electricity from North Africa across the Mediterranean to their shores.  Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia are among the Saharan countries that could provide all their own power and much of Europe’s.  Morocco and Tunisia are already building plants, and Morocco has an electricity connector to Spain. It has long been known that harnessing the power of the sunlight that shines on a few hundred square miles of desert would be enough to provide electricity for all of mankind’s needs. How to collect the power and transport it was the problem. Now both technical barriers to development have been solved with a variety of schemes. The Abu Dhabi plant that uses mirrors is one of a number of similar ideas that arrange reflectors to concentrate the Sun’s rays to make electricity. Several have now been proved to work commercially – and the price of power continues to come down. These plants are in operation in many sunny parts of the world including California, Spain and Australia.

Night light

  Photo-voltaic cells that make electricity direct from sunlight are even more prevalent, with the price of panels also continuing to fall. Add to the power of sunlight the fact that many desert areas are also windy, and the potential for power production is huge. A factor that has previously worried investors is that even in the desert the Sun does not shine at night, when much of the electricity is needed. To get round that a system has been developed to store excess heat in molten salt and use it to generate electricity after dark. The wind turbines in the desert built alongside the solar arrays would of course continue to pump out power at night. The next problem – how to transport electricity from isolated areas with low populations to the cities that need it – is also solvable. Modern super-conducting cables using direct power can transport electricity across 3,000 kilometres, losing only 3% of their power per 1,000 kilometres. These cables, developed in Europe, are not theoretical: they are already in use in China. Super-conductors could be laid across the Mediterranean so that North African sunshine could power Europe. The organization that aims to create a super-grid across North Africa, the Middle East and Europe to utilize this resource, Dii, accepts that the problems are not just technical but also political. Some of the countries with the greatest solar resource that would need to be connected to each other to make maximum gains from the technology are not good friends.

Local use comes first

  This would make a super-grid difficult to construct, and electricity supplies liable to disruption if disputes broke out. Power plants would also be easy targets for terrorists. There are other political sensitivities. The European Union, and particularly Germany, which is very keen on the idea of exploiting this renewable resource, are anxious that Africa and the Middle East should feel ownership of the projects rather than that they are being leant on to cooperate. European politicians feel it is important that these countries should also be the first to get the benefit of the solar power stations with the electricity being used locally, and only surpluses exported across the Mediterranean. There are now 36 partners in the Dii project, with most of the money and expertise coming from Germany and other large European manufacturers. According to the German Aerospace Centre, investment would need to be €400 billion by 2050 in plants and transmission lines to realize the dream of providing the entire electricity supply for North Africa and 15% of Europe’s needs. Studies have shown that even with transmission losses it is cheaper to construct solar plants in North Africa than in southern Europe. This is partly because the Sun shines from 3,000 to 3,500 hours a year, with greater intensity than in Europe, but also because there are large tracts of unused land for the construction of fields of mirrors or lenses to concentrate the solar rays. Lack of water to clean the mirrors, and for cooling, is one of the technical problems still to be overcome. But like all newer renewable technologies, the cost of concentrated solar power is expected to fall because of mass production and to be considerably cheaper than rivals like nuclear power. What is needed is the political will to make it work. – Climate News Network