A new study shows that the risks of the kind of deadly floods that hit parts of Germany and Belgium earlier this summer are up to nine times higher due to climate change.
Between 12 and 15 July, huge bodies of water swept away, washing away homes and roads. At least 190 people died in western Germany and nearly 40 people lost their lives in Belgium. In the Netherlands, thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes.
By analyzing rainfall over Western Europe, researchers from several European countries as well as the United States have attempted to assess the extent to which climate change has altered the likelihood of heavy rainfall.
We will definitely get more of this with a warmer climate, says one of the research group leaders, Climate Researcher Frederic Otto at Oxford University for Reuters.
In the study, published by the World Weather Attribution (WWA), 39 researchers analyzed weather data and simulations across France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland to compare today’s climate — which is about 1.2 degrees warmer, by and large. Because of human pollution – what was the weather like before industrialization.
Because warmer air can absorb more moisture, summer rain in the affected area is now 3 to 19 percent heavier than it would have been without global warming, according to the researchers.
“The increased risk that we showed in the study is something we have to work with through flood management, to be prepared and have early warning systems in place,” he says Martin van Aalst, head of the Red Cross Climate Center, AFP.
In line with IPCC
It is estimated that the probability of such extreme weather conditions leading to devastating floods in Germany and Belgium has “increased by a factor of between 1.2 and 9”. The reason the range in the forecast is so large is partly due to shortcomings in historical weather reports. In addition, the equipment that monitors the water level in the floods was destroyed.
The study confirms that global warming played a major role in the flood disaster, it says Stephen RamstorffHe is an oceanographer at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research (PIK) in Berlin.
He adds that this is in line with the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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