EEA report on climate change

The EEA has published a new report (EEA report 12/2012) on climate change, that should discuss and document climate change in Europe over the last decade (2001 to 2011): “This European Environment Agency (EEA) report presents information on past and projected climate change and related impacts in Europe, based on a range of indicators”.

As always the case with these official and generously funded reports, the graphical quality is excellent, and the writing style is easy to read. So I recommend to download this blockbuster of 304 pages and read it carefully. As I am touring in Australia for the moment, I read through the report rather quickly, so the following comments may be provisional.

Here my overall appreciation:

1. The title suggest a report centered on Europe, but in fact there is much rehashing and copy/paste form IPCC (especially AR4) with a recall “ad nauseam” of global climate evolution, as seen through IPCC’s eyes.

2. The overall tone clearly is alarmist, and not neutral. If for example a phenomenon can clearly not be attributed to climate change, one finds this admirable sentence “attribution to climate change is difficult”.

3. One author seems to be a Jack of all trades: EEA employe Hans Martin Füssel is the author/coauthor/contributor of at least 12 chapters/subchapters !

4. The report should analyze the climate evolution of the last decade, but fails to mention the stand-still of global temperature during this period.

Now let’s discuss in more detail some gems found in the report:

1. Temperature: That “the last 10 years are the warmest since the pre-industrial age”  is a truism for a planet leaving the Little Ice Age in 1850. This information is meant to push a sense of urgency and angst, but is particularly nasty as it does not mention the important plateau reached in global temperatures since at least 15 years. I wonder if the constant reference to pre-industrial climate suggests this period of nasty and cold climate as the enjoyable optimum to be aspired too.

2. Storms: the report mentions that there was an increase in frequency/intensity during  the 1960 – 1990’s, but then a decrease to the present (emphasis is mine). This latter (and correct) finding should at least be discussed, as it points to a natural cycle in storminess (AMO).

3. Snow: Actually, nothing serious to report, as there are no significant changes in winter and autumn (in Europe). So to assure nevertheless  some scary feelings, March snow cover is reported down by 7%.

4. Water limited crop production: Yields of several crops (like wheat) are stagnating, but others are increasing (maize). Could the stagnation be caused by economic factors and not by climatic ones?

5. Ground ozone: Tropospheric ozone is the scare-gas that always comes handy when other catastrophes seem going little: the report speaks of estimated 20000 premature deaths attributed to ozone in Europe, but nevertheless concedes that “attribution to ozone exceedances to climate change is difficult”.

The 20000 premature deaths are a red herring that I do not believe at all. In most part of Europe, ground ozone levels are falling since quite a time (see for isntance here).

6. Ocean heat content: There is practically no change since 2000, so the graph extends to a longer period to impress the reader.

This is a trick that always seems to work!

These comments are, as said above, written after a very rapid lecture of the full report (not only the summary). If time permits, I will come back to this report, that I consider interesting to read, but in -informative to a large degree, and, what is my greatest critique, overtly alarmist and one-sided.

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