Climate: New study shows regional variations in European warming

Biggest changes coming to Scandinavia

How will global warming play out at the regional level?

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Even if global warming limited to the 2 degree Celsius target level, parts of Europe will warm much more than the global average, with the biggest increases in Scandinavia and Russia, where temperatures are likely to climb up to 6 degrees Celsius in the next few decades.

A new study, published in the IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters, shows robust precipitation increases over Central and Northern Europe in the winter and Northern Europe in the summer, with a more extreme precipitation events, increasing the flood risks which are already having significant economic consequences. Southern Europe is an exception, and will experience a general decline in mean precipitation.

The latest projections are based on ever-more accurate regional climate models that also project changing rainfall patterns across Europe. The findings suggest northwestern Europe, specifically the UK, will see relatively less warming.

Daily maximum temperatures over southeastern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula could go up by 3 degrees Celsius and rise well above 40 degrees Celsius in regions that already experience some of the highest temperatures in Europe, such as Spain, Portugal and France. Such higher temperatures will increase evaporation and drought.


“The 2 degree Celsius warming target has mainly been decided among nations as a limit not to exceed in order to avoid possibly dangerous climate change,” said lead author of the research Robert Vautard, from Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (CEA/CNRS/UVSQ). “However, the consequences of such a warming, at the scale of a continent like Europe, have not yet been quantified. We find that, even for such an ambitious target as 2 degrees Celsius, changes in European climate are significant and will lead to significant impacts.”

To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers used an ensemble of 15 regional climate models to simulate climate changes under a scenario,representing rapid economic growth and a balanced approach to energy sources.

In addition to temperature and precipitation changes that may occur, the researchers also investigated atmospheric circulation and winds, but found no significant changes.

“Even if the 2 degree Celsius goal is achieved, Europe will experience impacts, and these are likely to exacerbate existing climate vulnerability. Further work on identifying key hotspots, potential impacts and advancing carefully planned adaptation is therefore needed,” the researchers concluded.


From Friday 7 March, this paper can be downloaded from

Notes to Editors


1. For further information, a full draft of the journal paper or contact with one of the researchers, contact IOP Press Officer, Michael Bishop: Tel: 0117 930 1032 E-mail: For more information on how to use the embargoed material above, please refer to our embargo policy.

IOP Publishing Journalist Area

2. The IOP Publishing Journalist Area gives journalists access to embargoed press releases, advanced copies of papers, supplementary images and videos. In addition to this, a weekly news digest is uploaded into the Journalist Area every Friday, highlighting a selection of newsworthy papers set to be published in the following week. Login details also give free access to IOPscience, IOP Publishing’s journal platform. To apply for a free subscription to this service, please email Michael Bishop, IOP Press Officer,, with your name, organisation, address and a preferred username.

The European climate under a 2 °C global warming

3. The published version of the paper ‘The European climate under a 2 °C global warming’ (Robert Vautard, Andreas Gobiet, Stefan Sobolowski, Erik Kjellström, Annemiek Stegehuis, Paul Watkiss, Thomas Mendlik, Oskar Landgren, Grigory Nikulin, Claas Teichmann and Daniela Jacob Environ. Res. Lett. 9 034006) will be freely available online from Friday 7 March. It will be available at


One thought on “Climate: New study shows regional variations in European warming

  1. I am confused by your report as regards the difference in temperatures from annual average changes to extreme daily maxima or minima. For example, your text discusses “Scandinavia and Russia, where temperatures are likely to climb up to 6 degrees Celsius in the next few decades.” Do you mean that the annual average temperature will become 6 degrees Celsius (42.8 degrees F)? If so. how much of an increase is that compared to the “pre-industrial” (1881-1910) annual average temperature? Here is what the full “The European climate under a 2 °C global warming “ report says: ” an even larger warming (up to more than 6 °C) over Scandinavia for extreme cold daily minima in winter.”. Hence my confusion.

    Could I also ask what the scale is for the color coding for the map at the start of your article?
    Do you know if there is an acronym glossary available for the full “The European climate under a 2 °C global warming” report? It needs one.
    Thank you. Albert G. Melcher

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