Assessing climate change impacts in the Pyrenees

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Source: European Environment Agency (EEA)

Europe’s mountain regions may suffer some of the most severe impacts of climate change. Increasing temperatures can change snow-cover patterns and lead to water shortages and other problems such as reduced ski tourism. Species may also face extinction if unable to move northward or uphill. To investigate these current and potential impacts in the Pyrenees, the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Pyrenees Working Community (CTP) have recently signed an agreement to work together.

The Pyrenees Climate Change Observatory (OPCC) has been created under the CTP to monitor and understand climate change in the Pyrenees. It also functions as a permanent platform for exchanging information between scientists, politicians and other actors in the Pyrenees mountain range.

'Temperatures are rising faster in mountainous regions, making them particularly vulnerable to climate change,' Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director, said. 'Glaciers in the Pyrenees have shrunk a lot over the past 150 years. This agreement will improve our understanding of this region, helping the local population adapt to continuing climate change'.

The EEA will offer expertise on data collection, information sharing and structuring and in assessing climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation. The collaboration aims to provide an overview of the climate change impacts in the region which can help local communities in preparing adaptation strategies for the most vulnerable socio-economic sectors and natural areas.

Information on regional and local climate change impacts and adaptation in the Pyrenees will also feed in to EEA European assessments, complementing other regional information sources provided for example by the Alpine Convention and the Carpathian Convention. In 2012, the EEA is planning to publish an update of its 2008 report on climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation in Europe with a specific chapter on mountain regions. The report will provide European, national and sub-national decision-makers with evidence that can help them formulate policies to cope with the impacts of climate change and adapt to its effects.   

The CTP is meeting in Toulouse today for its annual plenary.

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