Observed and projected changes in temperature, precipitation variability and sea level all have impacts on water resources, notably through changed flood risks, water scarcity, droughts, and sea level rise. Changes in precipitation are described in the atmosphere page. For sea level rise and other marine issues, see oceans. On this page, access is provided to information on flood risks, water scarcity and droughts.
The frequency and intensity of both floods and drought are projected to change, with an inequitable impact across the regions of Europe. Various projects and programmes in Europe focus on the observation and projections of situations with both too much or too little water. Much of the available data are not directly related to climate change, but can be useful for determining climate change impacts and vulnerability, and assisting adaptation studies.
Although individual floods cannot be associated with climate change, flood risks are expected to change and form the focus of a number of European activities.
The European Floods Portal brings together information on river floods and flood risk in Europe, and the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS) is an early flood warning system complimenting national and regional systems. The CRUE ERA network has been set up to consolidate existing European flood risk research programmes, promote best practice and identify gaps and opportunities for collaboration on future programme content. It maintains the CRUISE database. Various national and international projects focus on changes in flood risk in Europe, for example, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, using the LISFLOOD model, assesses how future climate developments may impact flood hazard across Europe (European Floods Portal). The Dartmouth flood observatory collects worldwide flood data. Since 1988 the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) has been maintaining an Emergency Events Database EM-DAT. The NatCatSERVICE of the insurer MunichRe is the most comprehensive natural catastrophe loss database in the world.
Water scarcity and droughts
Climate change can also alter the risk of water scarcity and drought. Although individual droughts cannot be attributed to climate change, future climate projections suggest that global warming is likely to favour conditions for the development of droughts in many regions of Europe.
Results of a pan-European assessment of changes in low water flow characteristics indicate that southern parts of Europe are most prone to reductions in minimum flow. The European Drought Observatory (EDO) provides background information on drought, a report on the current drought situation in Europe and data and tools for details on drought conditions. The European Drought Centre (EDC) is a virtual centre of European drought research and drought management organisations designed to promote collaboration and capacity building between scientists and the user community
Climate change can also have impacts on water quality. Euro-limpacs was an EU funded project concerned with the effects of climate change on freshwater systems (rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands) that developed the Climate Change and Freshwater portal. This aims to give an overview of the effects of climate change on European and Global freshwater ecosystems.