The Carpathian mountain region is one of the most significant natural refuges on the European continent. It is home to Europe’s most extensive tracts of montane forest, the largest remaining virgin forest and natural mountain beech-fir forest ecosystems. Adding to the biodiversity are semi-natural habitats such as hay meadows, which are the result of centuries of traditional land management. Like other mountain regions areas, the Carpathian mountain region provides important ecosystem goods and services such as water provision, food products, forest products and tourism. But these ecosystem services are feared to be under threat from climate change.
This chapter reports on climate trends, impacts and adaptation options. Analysis of climate trends show an increase in annual mean temperature of 1.1–2.0 °C over the last 50 years (1961–2010), further increasing by 3.5–4.0 °C towards the end of the century. Precipitation changes are dispersed with an increase of 300–400 mm in the north and decrease of 100–150 mm in the south regions. Summer precipitation is projected to reduce by 20 %, whereas winter precipitation is projected to increase in most areas by 5–20 % by the year 2100. Both future scenarios and observations show high spatial variability and uncertainty. The same holds for the impacts on the investigated sectors water resources, forests, wetlands, grasslands, agriculture and tourism.
The review of climate trends and adaptation options, inspired a strategic agenda on adaptation to be implemented under the regional Carpathian Convention. Planning for climate change adaptation benefits from transnational cooperation because many impacts relate to seasonal and geographical shifts across borders. This is true for the natural system (e.g. shifts in species distribution and snow cover) as well as for socio-economic activities like agriculture, forestry and tourism (e.g. shifting opportunities for growing crops and changes in the tourist season). Examples of adaptation exist, yet need to be communicated for wider adoption. Essential components of adaptation will be capacity building and information sharing, climate-proofing of infrastructure and investments, promotion of eco-system based adaptation measures and making biodiversity management more dynamic.