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Dutch weather predicted to get even wetter30 May 2014, by Alexandra Gowling
The latest predictions on climate change in the Netherlands foreshadow warmer winters like those on the Atlantic coast in the south of France, but with intense rain and hailstorms year round.
Even though the current estimates suggest summers will be warmer and drier, more water than ever will fall on the Lowlands, thanks to an increasing amount of water vapour in the atmosphere.
The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) has released four new climate scenarios for the Netherlands up until 2085, based on the latest research and the most recent report by the IPCC, the United Nations climate panel.
Climate change in the Netherlands
The scenarios in the report are the most detailed yet, using data from fog, solar radiation, humidity, evaporation, drying and air quality.
They show increasing differences in temperature between coastal and inland provinces and the heightened probability of extreme weather conditions, such as heavy rain with hail and thunderstorms, frost and heat waves.
KNMI suggests that the Netherlands will warm up by between 1,0 and 2,3 degrees Celsius annually until around 2050, after which it could increase to 3,7 degrees by 2085.
The climate scenarios also point to the sea level on the Dutch coast rising by 25 to 80 centimetres by that time.
One outcome of milder winters can already be seen this spring: a great increase in people suffering from hay fever.
The recent mild winter resulted in an unprecedented outbreak of hay fever across the Netherlands, thanks to the pollen season lasting six full months.
Dutch action on climate change
State Secretary for Infrastructure and the Environment Wilma Mansveld said that the scenarios made it clear that the effects of climate change are far reaching.
"The question should not be whether we should act, but how to act. We must get to work," she said. "The price of doing nothing is the worst-case scenario. It harms the long-term growth of the world economy. And so our prosperity."
There are actions already in place to protect against flooding and ensure sufficient fresh water in the Netherlands, including the Delta Programme. Mansveld added that the new report underlines the need to continue these.
She also stressed that measures should be taken primarily at European and global levels. "The government can devise plans on its own," she concluded, "but dirty air does not stop at the border."
Read the full report (in Dutch).