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Heat waves

Water scarcity and droughts


Forest fires


Heat waves have been the most prominent hazard causing human fatalities over the past decades. The 2003 summer European heat wave alone has caused up to 70 000 excess deaths over four months in Central and Western Europe. Increased mortality is the most drastic impact of heat waves. However, exposure to hot weather can impact human health and well-being in various ways, ranging from "bad mood", feeling discomfort and getting sick.

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Water resources are expected to decrease in Europe as a result of increasing imbalance between water demand and water availability. Socio-economic factors such as population growth, increased consumption, and land use have a huge impact on water scarcity with climate change exacerbating the problem. Many cities in southern and eastern Europe, as well as some in western Europe are already experiencing water stress during the summer. Future projections see an aggravation and also northwards extension of the problem.

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In Europe, flooding and storms are the natural hazards that cause the highest economic losses. In a warmer climate that intensifies the water cycle, projections show a further increase in the risk of river floods in many western European and central eastern European areas, of urban drainage flooding in in particular western and northern Europe; and of coastal floods.

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Especially in Southern Europe wildfires involving settlements are becoming more and more frequent, because of the increasing number of houses and infrastructure located within, and adjacent to, areas prone to wildfires. Climate change projections, in particular for the Mediterranean areas but also for other parts of Europe, indicate an increase in air temperature, heat waves and dry spells, and a decrease in summer rainfall, contributing to increased ignition probability and fire propagation during the summer period.

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