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Annual number of landslides in central Italy will increase by 30% and 45% for 2040-2069 and 2070-2099, respectively. This is due to an increase of rainfall intensity in the hours prior to landslides.

In contrast to global climate model projections the intensity of summer rainfall may increase. This is important for fresh water supply and, for instance, with respect to flash floods.

For the Alps, the main trigger of debris flows is high intensity, short duration rainfall. Under future climate change, it is likely that increases in extreme rainfall will alter debris flow frequency

The global area of dryland is increasing rapidly. This was shown from data over the period 1948–2005, and seems to proceed towards the end of this century.

In Italy, landslides are a serious threat to the population: in the period 1954–2013 1279 persons were killed and 1731 were injured by landslides. Rainfall is the primary trigger

Global warming affects precipitation volumes in the Alps, the contribution of rain and snow to these volumes, and the timing of snowmelt. An overall decrease in snow cover

There is growing evidence that the rate of warming is amplified with elevation, such that high-mountain environments experience more rapid changes in temperature

Climate-change driven increase in rainfall erosivity could have strong adverse effects for the Mediterranean, such as an exacerbated soil degradation

According to a recent study, the chance of extremely hot summers would have increased dramatically since the 2003 European heat wave.

European wine farms show considerable potential to improve their economic performance, and thereby ease their situation in a global change scenario.

The northern Adriatic Sea has been influenced by significant warming of air temperature, changes in precipitation pattern, and a varying Po river runoff

The Mediterranean Sea is warming in both shallow and deep waters. This warming is part of global climate trends and not a regional phenomenon.

In the Alps, the overall frequency of debris flows may decrease in absolute terms, but the magnitude of events may increase.

Strong reduction of snow cover in the Alps is expected to have major impacts on winter tourism. Many ski-regions have mean elevations below 2,000 m

Model results present no statistical evidence of changes of storm surge statistics in the future climate scenario. This shows that likely the main hazard to Venice is posed by future sea level rise.

One of the areas most negatively affected by climate change is the Po-valley in Northern Italy, which is both heavily urbanized and also one of the largest industrialized regions in Europe.

So far, forest fires do not constitute a significant hazard in the central and northern parts of the Alps, while on the southern side they are more common

Substantial reductions in potential groundwater recharge are projected for the 21st century in southern Europe and increases in northern Europe ...

The extremes of possible climate-change-driven habitat range size reductions are commonly based on two assumptions ...

Will tidal flooding events in Venice increase in frequency and intensity during the 21st century? This has been debated recently ...

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I recommend

National plans/strategies for Italy

  • Sixth National Communication of Italy under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (2014). Download.

Reports/papers that focus on important Italian topics

  • Insurance: The effect of potentially catastrophic events on insurance demand in Italy (2014). Download.
  • Agriculture, forest fires: Giannakopoulos et al. (2009). Climatic changes and associated impacts in the Mediterranean resulting from a 2°C global warming. Download.
  • Climate Change: observations, projections and impacts. Downloads.
  • Coastal flood risk (Venice): Ravera (2000).The Lagoon of Venice: the result of both natural factors and human influence. Download.
  • Desertification, agriculture, landslides a.o.: Carraro and Sgobbi (2008). Climate change impacts and adaptation strategies in Italy. An economic assessment. Download.
  • Fresh water resources: Collins (2009). Water scarcity and drought in the Mediterranean. Download.
  • River flood risk: Mambretti et al. (2008). Flood-risk assessment and hazard mitigation measures: case studies and lessons learnt in Italy. Download.

Reports/papers that present a sound overview for Europe

  • Eisenreich (2005). Climate change and the European water dimension. A report to the European water directors.
  • European Environment Agency (2005). Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in Europe. Download.
  • European Environment Agency, JRC and WHO (2008). Impact of Europe’s changing climate – 2008 indicator-based assessment. Download.

Reports/papers that focus on specific topics, relevant for all of Europe

  • Agriculture: Rounsevell et al. (2005). Future scenarios of European agricultural land use II. Projecting changes in cropland and grassland. Download.
  • Agriculture: Fischer et al. (2005). Socio-economic and climate change impacts on agriculture: an integrated assessment, 1990–2080. Download.
  • Biodiversity: Thuiller et al. (2005). Climate change threats to plant diversity in Europe. Download.
  • Coastal erosion: Salman et al. (2004). Living with coastal erosion in Europe: sediment and space for sustainability. Download.
  • Droughts: Blenkinsop and Fowler (2007). Changes in European drought characteristics projected by the PRUDENCE regional climate models. Download.
  • Droughts: European Environment Agency (2009). Water resources across Europe – confronting water scarcity and drought. Download.
  • Forestry: Seppälä et al. (2009). Adaptation of forests and people to climate change. A global assessment report. Download.
  • Health: Kosatsky (2005). The 2003 European heat waves. Download.
  • Health: WHO (2008). Protecting health in Europe from climate change. Download.
  • Insurance and Business: Mills et al. (2005). Availability and affordability of insurance under climate change. A growing challenge for the U.S. Download.
  • Security and Crisis management: German Advisory Council on Global Change (2007). World in transition: Climate change as a security risk. Summary for policy-makers. Download.
  • Storms: Gardiner et al. (2010). Destructive storms in European forests: Past and forthcoming impacts. Download.
  • Storms: Pinto et al. (2007). Changing European storm loss potentials under modified climate conditions according to ensemble simulations of the ECHAM5/MPI-OM1 GCM. Download.
  • Tourism: Deutsche Bank Research (2008). Climate change and tourism: Where will the journey lead? Download.

Weblogs in English and Italian

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EU funded Research Projects

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Mitigation / adaptation integrated policy

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Forest fires Italy

Forest fires in numbers

In Italy, forests are very important for landscape, biodiversity, the balance of the environment and for the economy. They occupy about 10 million ha (30% of the national area). In the past 20 years 1,100,000 ha of forest have been burnt in Italy. Every year an average of 11,000 fires occur, destroying more than 50,000 ha of wood each year (1).


Today, as a result of a strong awareness-raising campaign and thanks to improved organization of the regional and national fire prevention system, the risk, though still high, has decreased. The surface burnt decreased from 190,640 ha in 1985 to 76,427 in 2001. Half of the total of about 10,000 fires every year occurs during July and August. During the hot year of 2003, regions affected by the highest numbers of fires were Calabria and Campania in the south-west of Italy, and when referring to the largest surfaces affected by the fires the most affected regions were in Sicily and Sardinia (1,2).

Vulnerabilities

So far, forest fires do not constitute a significant hazard in the central and northern parts of the Alps, while on the southern side they are more common even if the fire number and the burned area are low compared to the neighbouring Mediterranean area, where the climate is more in favour of the development of frequent and large wildfires. Due to their high potential impact in terms of human lives, commodities and natural heritage, however, the Alpine forest fires require a relatively large amount of resources for fire-fighting and prevention: the mountainous environment makes fire fighting very difficult, and a rapid intervention is required because the fires readily endanger human activities and infrastructures. Furthermore, secondary damages via other consecutive natural hazards, such as an enhancement of debris flows, erosion and avalanche danger, may occur, too (8).

The impact of climate change on the fire potential in the Alps in the past and in future scenarios has been evaluated from a multimodel approach (simulations from 7 Regional Climate Models), a detailed Regional Climate Model for the Alps area (COSMO), and data on daily temperature and precipitation observations during 1961–2010. The scenario period is 2031–2050; the RCM projections are based on the SRES scenario A1B. These model confirm previous results (9) that in recent decades the strongest increase of forest fire danger has been observed in the Southern Alps, while north of the Alps no clear trend was observed (8).

Forest fire danger, length of the fire season, and fire frequency and severity are very likely to increase in the Mediterranean (3), and will lead to increased dominance of shrubs over trees (4).


Dry weather and damaged ecosystem with accumulation of dead biomass increase the risk of forest fires and therefore increased climate variability will augment the risk of forest fires (2). In addition, forest fires are expected to encourage the spread of invasive species which in turn, have been shown to fuel more frequent and more intense forest fires (5).

An indication of the forest fire risk under the future climate scenarios has been calculated (5). Under both A2 and B2 scenarios, fire risk is shown to increase nearly everywhere in the Mediterranean region, especially in inland locations. The southern Mediterranean is at risk of forest fire all year round. In the Iberian Peninsula, northern Italy and over the Balkans, the period of extreme fire risk lengthens substantially. The only region that shows little change in fire risk is in the southeastern Mediterranean.

Projections of forest fire risk in 2030-2060 compared with 1961-1990 suggest that (5):

  • the increase is higher during the summer, with maximum increase in August in the North Mediterranean inland;
  • Balkans, Maghreb, North Adriatic, Central Spain, and Turkey are the most affected regions;
  • the south of France is as strongly affected as Spain, but only in August and September;
  • the islands of Crete, Sardinia, Sicily (southernmost Italy too), Peloponnese, and Cyprus see no increase or decrease. Cyprus may even see a small decrease every month;
  • there will be 2 to 6 additional weeks of fire risk everywhere, except for the south of Italy and Cyprus. The maximum increase is again inland (Spain, Maghreb, Balkans, North Italy, and Central Turkey), where at least an additional month with risk of fire is expected. A significant proportion of this increase in fire risk is actually extreme fire risk;
  • the south of France, Crete, and the coastal area of the rest of Mediterranean Region also show a significant increase in the number of days with fire risk (1-4 weeks), but not in the number of extreme fire risk.

Contrary to the pattern expected in boreal and temperate forests, both the frequency and intensity of fires in subtropical forests will eventually decrease after an initial phase of increase once rainfall has decreased so much that less grass fuel is available to support fires (6).

Adaptation strategies

Major funding has also been put into increasing the capacity to combat forest fires in Europe. For example, Italy has Europe’s largest fleet of aircraft and helicopters, and has on several occasions loaned out its planes to France and Spain. The high level of preparedness requires significant resources, but has shown good results: the year 2000 saw 6,600 fires destroy 58,000 hectares of forest, while almost the same number of fires in 2006 only destroyed 16,000 hectares. Protezione Civile considers itself to have a successful organisation with a high level of preparedness and great capacity to handle the effects of climate change (2).

Adaptation options to forest fire risk should aim to decrease the vulnerability, where a change in tree species from conifers to broadleaves had most effect (7).

References

The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Italy.

  1. WHO (2007)
  2. Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea of Italy (2007)
  3. Santos et al. (2002); Pausas (2004); Moreno (2005); Pereira et al. (2005); Moriondo et al. (2006), all in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
  4. Mouillot et al. (2002), in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
  5. Giannakopoulos et al. (2005)
  6. Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
  7. Schelhaas et al. (2010)
  8. Cane et al. (2013)
  9. Wastl et al. (2012), in: Cane et al. (2013)
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