A study on “Future heat-waves, droughts and floods in 571 European cities” was published in Environmental Research Letters last week. The authors around Selma Guerreiro from Newcastle University used all CMIP5 runs for the RCP8.5 scenario to examine extreme climate conditions in European cities in low-, medium- and high-impact scenarios. They find that southern Europe will see an increased number of Heat-Wave (HW) days, while the greatest HW temperatures will be seen by central European cities. In the study's low-impact scenario, drought conditions will intensify particularly in southern Europe while river flooding will be prevalent especially in northern European cities. However, in the worst scenario, both drought and river flood risk will increase for most European cities.

More than 100 European cities are vulnerable to two or more climate impact types. Notably the magnitude of impacts projected in this study surpasses those found in previous studies. As one example for flooding risk, the study highlights a number of British cities as particularly vulnerable to river flooding: even in the low-impact scenario, 85% of cities in the United Kingdom are expected to see increased river flooding. But also several other European cities could observe increases of over 50% in their 10-year high river flow.

This study on future climate extremes as they will manifest themselves in all major European cities is an important step toward assessing future risk and devising proper adaptation strategies. It also highlights that adaptation of cities is more challenging for heat-waves than for the flood component of future climate risks.

The full, open-access article can be read on the ERL journal homepage. A press release is available on the homepage of Newcastle University.