Climate Changing Cities

Across Europe, summers and winters are set to get warmer, with dramatic increases in extreme weather events. As most people in Europe live in urban areas, how well cities are able to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change will have an impact on a significant number of people. Forecasts indicate that, on average, the climate of cities in Europe in 30 years’ time could feel like that in cities 1000 kilometres to the south. However, it can be difficult for people and businesses to imagine how such changes will affect them. The infographic below visualises what the forecast climate changes mean for 30 cities across Europe. Each of the cities is shown in the location that resembles its future climate. For example, in 30 years’ time, London’s climate will feel more like present-day Barcelona.

Click on the infographic to enlarge it.

climate changing cities infographic

Climate change impact on European cities

2020 was the warmest year on record in Europe, 0.4 degrees Celsius higher than in 2019, the previous warmest year. The next four warmest years in Europe also occurred in the last decade.

The data used in the infographic comes from research that applies a conservative future climate change scenario to determine the impact on cities. The research forecasts that, by 2050, average temperatures in European cities could rise by 3.5 degrees Celsius in summer and 4.7 degrees Celsius in winter. As a consequence, cities in Europe could feel more like cities 1000 kilometres to the south, a speed of change equivalent to around 20 kilometres a year. By 2050, population projections estimate that 80% of Europeans will be living in urban areas, so the extent of change in climatic conditions of cities will have an impact on a significant number of people.

Visualising the data

People can find it hard to translate what temperature rises could mean for how they live. Companies and organisations also need to be able to consider how it could affect their business practices, supply chains and customer preferences. Moving the location of a city to reflect the feel and conditions of another at a lower latitude helps to illustrate the potentially dramatic shift in the living environment that could be experienced in 30 years’ time.

On the infographic, each city name is positioned at a location resembling what that city’s climate could feel like in 2050. Trace the string back to the companion pin to find the actual geographic location of the city. For example, by 2050, Edinburgh’s climate will feel like present-day Lille in northern France. The infographic demonstrates the southward shift created by the changing climatic conditions felt in each city..

Displaying the data in this way helps policy makers, urban planners, businesses, organisations and the wider public to understand and convey the potentially dramatic effects of climate change on the places where they live and work. Information like this can help to reinforce the need to take action and change behaviour to avoid, or respond and adapt to, the changing climate conditions in cities. For example, creating a comprehensive network of urban green infrastructure will help cities to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, including by moderating temperature rises.


Bastin, J-F.; Clark, E.; Elliott, T.; Hart, S.; van den Hoogen, J.; Hordijk, I.; Ma, H.; Majumder, S.; Manoli, G.; Maschler, J.; Mo, L.; Routh, D.; Yu, K.; Zohner, C. M. and Crowther, T. W. (2019). Understanding climate change from a global analysis of city analogues. PLOS ONE, 14(7): p.e0217592.

European Union (2021). Copernicus: 2020 warmest year on record for Europe; globally, 2020 ties with 2016 for warmest year recorded. Press Release 8th January 2021.

United Nations, (2018). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2018 Revision. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division.

This infographic appeared in JONO Design e-news. The e-news is published once every couple of months and each issue contains a specially designed infographic.

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