Energy & Environment

Climate change increasing chances for deadly flooding in western Europe: research

Flooding in Germany kills at least 20 people
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Climate change is increasing the risk of severe flooding as a result of heavy rainfall in Western Europe, according to research published Tuesday by World Weather Attribution (WWA).

In their analysis, researchers looked at severe flooding that killed some 200 people in Germany and Belgium after rainfall inundated riverbanks. They analyzed how climate change affected similar events throughout the region, particularly between the Netherlands and the northern Alps.

The analysis is based on a combination of regional climate models, high-resolution simulation models and data observations, according to WWA. The observation-based data shows larger variations in likelihood and intensity compared to the other models.

The researchers determined that climate change has increased one-day summer rainfall event intensity in that area by 3 to 19 percent.

“The likelihood of such an event to occur today compared to a 1.2 °C cooler climate has increased by a factor between 1.2 and 9 for the 1-day event in the large region,” they added. “The increase is again similar for the 2-day event.”

“All available evidence taken together, including physical understanding, observations over a larger region and different regional climate models give high confidence that human-induced climate change has increased the likelihood and intensity of such an event to occur and these changes will continue in a rapidly warming climate,” researchers concluded.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel cited the July flooding to argue for more aggressive action on climate change in remarks in western Germany last month.

“One flood isn’t the example of climate change, but if we look at the loss events of recent years, decades, then they are simply more frequent than they were previously — so we must make a great effort,” she said.

The European Union has announced some of the most aggressive carbon-emission reduction targets in the industrialized world. In July, Brussels announced a target of a 55 percent reduction by the end of the decade. This goal is more ambitious than those of China or the U.S., the first- and second-largest emitters of carbon worldwide, respectively.


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