Extreme weather patterns in Europe

Were you, like us, scrambling to the nearby store to buy a fan last summer? Or finding any opportunity to jump into a lake or sea nearby to stay cool? If these sound like taking extreme measures to beat the weather, that is absolutely true! We are nowadays experiencing  what is called ‘extreme weather’, which result in unexpected, unusual, unpredictable, severe or unseasonal weather patterns (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2005). Extreme weather conditions can be observed as heat waves, hurricanes and tornadoes, excessive rains, or cold waves. The alarming truth about this weather is that it will stay, if no measures are taken to control the factors that cause this weather.  

The consortium partners of OPERANDUM have timely realized that extreme weather events are having high impact in European territories and on a global scale. Read the article below to know more about this subject and how OPERANDUM wishes to tackle this situation.  

extreme weather events

Figure 1. Examples of extreme weather patterns around the world in Summer 2019 (Source: National Climate Data Centre- NOAA).


What is causing these extreme weather patterns? 

Unfortunately, like with every other environmental issue, human activities have contributed largely to the extraordinary weather patterns we observe today. Industrial activities, predominantly those that have released excessive amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere have been blamed for this weatherOnly in the last 50 years, the global mean temperature at the Earth’s surface has increased by about 0.9oC.  

Burning fossil fuels and unregulated deforestation have also contributed to the increase of global mean temperature. Higher temperatures have been shown to contribute to increase in mean sea water temperatures, melting of glaciers and ice sheets leading to flooding. Higher temperatures have also resulted in the abnormal heat vortexes and devastating cyclones and tornadoes that result from this.  

What are the effects of these weather patterns? 

Several countries worldwide experience the extreme weather patterns in the means of heatwaves, flooding, draughts, severe and unseasonal cyclones and tornadoes that unleash damage to human lives, animals and to the environment. Other damaging effects resulting from the extreme weather conditions include: 

  • damage to and destruction of infrastructure 
  • irreversible changes in the environment 
  • harm on biodiversity 
  • displaced population migrations  
  • competition for scarce resources  
  • decrease in water quality,  
  • and spread of diseases. (Source: EASAC policy report 22 November 2013) 
drought in europe

Figure 2. Map of countries in Europe facing draught in 2019, resulting from extreme weather conditions recently. Source: European Commission Science Hub)

How is the OPERANDUM project connected? 

OPERANDUM employs Nature-based solutions to develop strategies that would help cope with extreme weather conditions. In Hong Kong, measures are being taken to reverse the effects of deforestation. Afforestation plans and expansion of existing forest area are underway (See: OAL Hong Kong). By reducing water flow connectivity via interrupting surface flows and by planting buffer strips of grass and trees, OAL in Greece aims to tackle extreme precipitation (See: OAL Greece). Additionally, by planting deep rooting plants or trees, to prevent damages resulting from flooding and excessive rains are being targeted (See: OAL Italy). These measures are only the beginning of the changes that need to be done to reduce the occurrence of extreme weather events and mitigate the effects of such weather.  

To know more about how OPERANDUM aims to deal with extreme weather patterns, visit the project-page