BERLIN (AFP) – Global warming is increasing the likelihood of the torrential rains that caused deadly floods in western Europe last month, scientists said, although it is not known exactly how much.
At least 220 people died in Germany and Belgium on July 14 and 15, as bloating streams turned into raging rivers and inundated homes, roads and bridges, causing billions of euros (dollars) in damage.
A study published Tuesday by the World Weather Attribution Group used historical data and computer simulations to examine how temperatures affected rainfall from the late 19th century to the present day. Although the study has not been evaluated by independent scientists yet, the authors use widely accepted methods to make rapid assessments of specific climate events such as floods, droughts and heat waves.
It found that across much of Western Europe – stretching from the Netherlands to Switzerland – one-day precipitation rose 3% to 19% during the period when global temperatures fell by 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) and increased by 1 degree Fahrenheit. ).
Experts say That for every 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) the planet heats up, the air can absorb 7% more water. When this water is released, it causes heavy rain.
According to the study, conducted by nearly 40 researchers from six European countries and the United States, the probability of heavy rains of the kind that caused floods last month increases by 1.2 to 9 times – and will increase even more as the planet expands. It stays warm.
Frank Crinkamp of the German Weather Service DWD, co-author of the study, said the findings support predictions made in the latest UN climate report..
“Obviously humans are changing and warming the Earth’s climate,” he said. “And with this warming, we also see a change in extreme weather events.”
The authors said the damage and loss of life seen in this disaster shows how countries need to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for such disasters.
“These floods have shown us that even developed nations are not safe from the extreme effects of the extreme weather we have seen,” said Frederic Otto, associate director of the Institute for Environmental Change at the University of Oxford. This is an urgent global challenge that we must face. The science is clear and it has been for years.”
Follow weather reports from the Associated Press at http://www.apnews.com/Climate
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