European countries are nine times more likely to be affected by devastating floods as the climate change risk increases, a new study says.
Historic rainfalls followed by deadly floods wreaked havoc on much of Western Europe last month. The deadly flooding resulted in at least 218 deaths in Germany and Belgium, and damaged dozens of settlements and infrastructure in the region.
But what prompted this calamity is directly linked to how humans are conducting themselves in the natural habitat.
The catastrophic floods that dominated many parts of Europe were largely caused by human-induced climate change, shows a new study released on Tuesday, indicating that the likelihood of massive rainfalls now increased ninefold due to global warming.
Scientists are studying heavy rainfalls and trying to understand whether climate change is the main precursor of cyclones and floods.
The study conducted by 39 researchers from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, the US and the UK came up with a body of evidence based on regional climate observations, high-resolution simulation models, and comparative data analysis.
According to findings, a record amount of rainfall was recorded in one summer day with 90mm in Germany’s Ahr/ Erft rivers and the Belgian part of the Meuse. The high volume of rainfall in these small regions was based on local weather patterns, so the scientists decided to increase the size of their sample survey by including other countries.
Then, the 39 researchers expanded their study to understand the overall impact of climate change on rainfall by including other countries such as France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and northern Switzerland.
In the end, they found out that climate change intensified the amount of rain that fell in one day in summer by 3-19 percent as the possibility of heavy rainfall in Western Europe is the outcome of human-induced climate change.
“Humans are clearly changing and warming up the Earth’s climate. And with this warming, we are also seeing a change in weather extremes,” said Dr Frank Kreienkamp of the German Meteorological Service, who co-wrote the study.
The rise in air temperatures of 1.2 degrees celsius increased the factors affecting devastating floods between 1.2 and 9 times since warmer air generates more water to be stored in the atmosphere and leads to excessive rains.
A grim situation like the floods in Western Europe is expected to occur every 400 years. But the ongoing greenhouse gas emissions and increased air temperatures have intensified the chances of heavy rainfall that lead to floods.
“These floods have shown us that even developed countries are not safe from severe impacts of extreme weather that we have seen,” said Dr Friederike Otto, co-lead of the scientific study, signalling that floods like these will likely be seen more frequently in Europe.
“This is an urgent global challenge and we need to step up to it. The science is clear and has been for years.”
Source: TRT World