June 14, 2024

Climate change has exacerbated floods Sciences

According to a quick analysis, climate change played a role in the extent of the floods in southern Germany. The heavy rains that caused the floods would have been up to 10 percent heavier without human-caused warming, the Climatometer Research Consortium said. Therefore, the El Niño phenomenon and other natural climate phenomena did not play any role in worsening the situation.

Even small amounts of increased rainfall can have disproportionately large impacts, the research consortium explained. For example, the Ahr Valley flood in 2021 increased by 3 to 19 percent due to climate change.

The climate barometer is a research project funded by the European Union and the French research organization CNRS. The so-called attribution study is said to rely on meteorological data from the past forty years. The researchers compared similar low pressure areas at the end of the twentieth century (1979 to 2001) with those in previous decades (2002 to 2023). Areas of low pressure like the one now occurring in southern Germany are now about 10 percent denser.

At the beginning of June, storms brought heavy rain and flooding, especially in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Many people died, thousands had to be evacuated to safety, landslides occurred and dams collapsed.

We can’t waste any more time

“The climate barometer results show that climate change caused by carbon dioxide emissions also affects highly developed countries such as Germany and can cause social, economic and environmental damage,” said CNRS co-author David Faranda. “All population groups are affected by climate change, and massive reductions in fossil fuels are necessary to reduce the risks of extreme weather events in a warming world.”

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Even in a country like Germany where riverbanks are well prepared for flooding, current measures are no longer sufficient to cope with increased flow rates, explained co-author Erika Coppola from the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) near Trieste. “New strategies and measures must be taken to address the increasing probability of similar flood events, which are becoming more frequent compared to the past and are expected to continue to increase due to human-caused climate change.” “There is no doubt and no time to waste because these changes are already happening today,” Coppola emphasized.