Europe’s cities face increasing extreme weather

European cities face increasing heatwaves, drought conditions and river flooding, a landmark study has forecast. Up to 85 per cent of UK cities with a river could face more frequent flooding.

Research has for the first time analyzed the potential impact of flooding, droughts and heatwaves on 571 European cities by 2050 to 2100.

The landmark study conducted by the University of Newcastle forecast a worsening of heatwaves for all cities, increasing drought conditions, particularly in southern Europe, and a rise in river flooding, especially in north-western cities.

“Most cities have considerable changes in more than one hazard which highlights the substantial challenge cities face in managing climate risks,” commented lead author Dr Selma Guerreiro in a statement.

Cork, Derry, Waterford, Wrexham, Carlisle, Glasgow, Chester and Aberdeen could be the worst hit cities in the British Isles for river flooding.

Even in the most optimistic scenario, 85 per cent of UK cities with a river are predicted to face increased river flooding. Half of UK cities could see at least a 50 per cent increase in peak river flows.

All European cities will experience a rise in the number of heatwave days and their maximum temperature, with those in central Europe forecast to see an increase of between 2 to 7 degrees Celsius for the low scenario and 8 to 14 degrees Celsius for the high.

By 2051 to 2100, cities in the south of Iberia are expected to face droughts more than twice as bad as in 1951-2000, but in the worst-case scenario, 98 per cent of European cities could see droughts in the future.

The implications of the study in terms of how Europe adapts to climate change are far-reaching, according to study co-author Professor Richard Dawson.

He said: “The research highlights the urgent need to design and adapt our cities to cope with these future conditions.”

Photo credit: Pete Lambert/ CC BY-NC 2.0

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