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Future heat-waves, droughts and floods in 571 European cities ( open access article)

Climate change 'will push European cities towards breaking point'. Study highlights urgent need to adapt urban areas to cope with floods, droughts and heatwaves. "Future heat-waves, droughts and floods in 571 European cities" published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, Volume 13, Number 3.

Major British towns and cities, including Glasgow, Wrexham, Aberdeen and Chester, could be much more severely affected by climate change than previously thought, according to new research.

The study, by Newcastle University, analysed changes in flooding, droughts and heatwaves for every European city using all climate models.

Looking at the impact by the year 2050-2100, the team produced results for three possible outcomes – low, medium and high-impact scenarios.

But even the most optimistic case showed 85% of UK cities with a river, including London, would face increased flooding.

In the high-impact scenario, some cities and towns in the UK and Ireland could see the amount of water per flood as much as double. The worst affected is Cork, which could see 115% more water per flooding, while Wrexham, Carlisle, Glasgow, and Chester could all see increases of more than 75%.

The increase in severity in the predicted impact has come after the team, in a first of its kind, examined all three climate hazards together in the largest study of its kind ever undertaken.

After around three years of analysing the information across hundreds of cities in Europe, they found every outcome was worse than previously thought.

Wrexham, Carlisle, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Derry and Chester were the worst-hit UK towns and cities for river flooding, with Dublin, Cork and Waterford the worst in Ireland.

All 571 cities studied saw a worsening in heatwaves and the high-impact scenario predicted southern Europe experiencing droughts 14 times worse than today.

The lead author, Selma Guerreiro, said: “Although southern European regions are adapted to cope with droughts, this level of change could be beyond breaking point.

“Furthermore, most cities have considerable changes in more than one hazard, which highlights the substantial challenge cities face in managing climate risks.”

While southern European cities saw the biggest increase in the number of heatwave days, central European cities saw the greatest increase in temperature during heatwaves – ranging between 2C to 7C for the low scenario and 8C to 14C for the high scenario.

A co-author, Prof Richard Dawson, said: “The research highlights the urgent need to design and adapt our cities to cope with these future conditions.

“We are already seeing at first hand the implications of extreme weather events in our capital cities. Continue reading the article from The Guardian