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Future heat-waves, droughts and floods in 571 European cities

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Selma GuerreiroORCiD, Professor Richard DawsonORCiD, Professor Chris Kilsby, Dr Elizabeth Lewis, Dr Alistair FordORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Cities are particularly vulnerable to climate risks due to their agglomeration of people, buildings and infrastructure. Differences in methodology, hazards considered, and climate models used limit the utility and comparability of climate studies on individual cities. Here we assess, for the first time, future changes in flood, heat-waves (HW), and drought impacts for all 571 European cities in the Urban Audit database using a consistent approach. To capture the full range of uncertainties in natural variability and climate models, we use all climate model runs from the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) for the RCP8.5 emissions scenario to calculate Low, Medium and High Impact scenarios, which correspond to the 10th, 50th and 90th percentiles of each hazard for each city. We find that HW days increase across all cities, but especially in southern Europe, whilst the greatest HW temperature increases are expected in central European cities. For the low impact scenario, drought conditions intensify in southern European cities while river flooding worsens in northern European cities. However, the high impact scenario projects that most European cities will see increases in both drought and river flood risks. Over 100 cities are particularly vulnerable to two or more climate impacts. Moreover, the magnitude of impacts exceeds those previously reported highlighting the substantial challenge cities face to manage future climate risks.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Guerreiro SB, Dawson RJ, Kilsby C, Lewis E, Ford A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Research Letters

Year: 2018

Volume: 13

Issue: 3

Print publication date: 21/02/2018

Online publication date: 21/02/2018

Acceptance date: 26/01/2018

Date deposited: 22/03/2018

ISSN (electronic): 1748-9326

Publisher: IOP Publishing Ltd


DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aaaad3


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Funder referenceFunder name
European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme