The Western Balkans is a mountainous region and a hotspot of climate change. Over the past decades, warming has accelerated, and throughout the 21st century it is projected to be higher than the world average. The observed changes in precipitation over the past few decades are less clear, but almost all climate models agree the countries within the region will experience a significant decrease in precipitation within the 21st century, accompanied by an increase in drought conditions and therefore water availability.
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Many of the impacts will be manifested in the mountain regions and their downstream areas. Mountain-specific climate hazards include reduced snow cover (up to 50 days less by 2050 across the Dinaric Arc); increasing occurrence of winter and spring flooding from intense precipitation and accelerated snowmelt; increases in the frequency and intensity of wildfires; heavy snow precipitation and cold extremes; the appearance of new disease vectors; and decreasing annual river discharge and low flow periods. Many of these impacts are not only a future issue, but also a present-day concern. The catastrophic flooding in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014, and regularly occurring extreme heat events and wildfires across the region are some recent examples.