Natural risks

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It is highly probable that the Pyrenees will see an increase in extreme weather phenomena.

Although the best documented changes are in heatwaves, it is very probable that droughts, intense rainfall, and cold waves will also become more frequent and intense over the coming decades, while hailstorms will increase in intensity only.

 

Global warming could influence the frequency and intensity of floods

Changes in the precipitation regime, together with earlier thaws in spring, could cause more frequent and intense flooding. While there is no clear trend across the territory, since there are many factors in play, particularly an increase in the amount of forest and changes in land use, this trend could be masked.

In recent decades "once in a century" floods have become more frequent in much of the Pyrenees, although they have caused less damage thanks to efforts to reduce exposure levels.
Because of the ongoing process of rural depopulation and the increase in wooded areas, it is very probable that in the future the problem will affect certain tourist-oriented areas of the Pyrenees.

 

The greater climate variability arising from climate change could lead to more frequent landslides, rockfalls, avalanches and similar events..

We can expect natural events, usually triggered by weather and climatic factors (high temperatures, intense precipitation) to be more frequent in the future.

The rising temperatures and heatwaves have led to an increase in rockfalls, landslides, mudslides, and similar phenomena.
In some areas of the Pyrenees there has been an increase of very large mudslides in recent years.
However, it is still difficult to define the exact relationship of the intensity of precipitations and the rising temperatures with the increase in events such as falling masonry, landslides and collapses.

 

Rising average temperatures can lead to an increase in the risks associated with accelerated degradation of the glaciers and frozen areas.

Global warming will probably alter the dynamic of the frozen areas and glaciers of the Pyrenees, altering their stability. This could increase the risk of more potentially dangerous episodes, such as rockfalls and landslides, especially in steeply sloping areas.In recent years, increased landslides have been detected on the north-west face of the Vignemale, associated with deterioration of permafrost (permanently frozen land), undoubtedly due to degradation processes caused by high temperatures.

 

Recommendations:

  • Reinforcing local characterisation studies of natural hazards, including as far as possible future climate projections (e.g., replacing the current baseline values with others that include possible climate evolution in the risk calculation models).
  • Prioritising the selection of robust measures, which will effectively reduce vulnerability to natural risks, whose results are positive regardless of the evolution of the climate and uncertainties (e.g., combining nature-based solutions with structural and management measures).
  • Improving knowledge of climate change impacts on natural disasters, and in particular, making an inventory of existing flood prevention measures; creating maps of natural hazards; creating tools to help the decision-making process; and at the same time, integrating climate projections. 
  • Maintaining and optimising the current systems for monitoring the different natural hazards to improve monitoring in high altitude and/or difficult-to-reach areas, while also strengthening cross-border cooperation to pool resources in obtaining and processing information.

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Technical Committee and executive board

Govern d'Andorra Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine Gobierno de Aragón Generalitat de Catalunya Eusko Jaurlaritza | Gobierno Vasco Occitanie Nafarroako Gobernua | Gobierno de Navarra


Steering committee and OPCC2 partners

FORESPIR CTP Universidad Zaragoza IPE - CSIC Conservatorie Botanique National EEAD - CSIC brgm


Cofinancers of the OPCC2 Project

Occitanie alima'agri POCTEFA Fundación Biodiversidad PIMA adapta

PYRENEAN CLIMATE CHANGE OBSERVATORY

Avenida Nuestra Señora de la Victoria, 8
22.700 - Jaca
Huesca - España

+34 974 36 31 00
info_opcc@ctp.org

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