While climate change will alter the distribution of water in time and space, quantifications of drought risk under global warming remain uncertain. Here, we show that in Europe, drought damages could strongly increase with global warming and cause a regional imbalance in future drought impacts. In the absence of climate action (4 °C in 2100 and no adaptation), annual drought losses in the European Union and United Kingdom combined are projected to rise to more than €65 billion per year compared with €9 billion per year currently, or two times larger when expressed relative to the size of the economy. Drought losses show the strongest rise in southern and western parts of Europe, where drought conditions at 4 °C could reduce regional agriculture economic output by 10%. With high warming, drought impacts will become a fraction of current impacts in northern and northeastern regions. Keeping global warming well below 2 °C would avoid most impacts in affected regions.
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The data that support the findings of this study are available from several databases listed in the Methods of the manuscript and the referred studies. Data are available from the authors on reasonable request and following data restrictions from the sources.
The code that supported the findings of this study is available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
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The research that led to these results received funding from DG CLIMA of the European Commission as part of the ‘PESETAIV-Climate Impacts and Adaptation in Europe’ project (Administrative Agreement JRC 34547–2017 / 340202/2017/763714/SER/CLIMATE.A.3). We further thank Munich Re for providing loss data from the NatCatSERVICE database.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Climate Change thanks the anonymous reviewers for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Naumann, G., Cammalleri, C., Mentaschi, L. et al. Increased economic drought impacts in Europe with anthropogenic warming. Nat. Clim. Chang. 11, 485–491 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-021-01044-3
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