Solar Journal – Researchers confirm link between climate change and flooding in Limburg due to heavy rainfall

Solar Journal - Researchers confirm link between climate change and flooding in Limburg due to heavy rainfall

Scientific researchers from countries including Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium have explored the link between climate change and the heavy rains that led to floods in the province of Limburg, Belgium and Germany.

Researchers from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, the United States and the United Kingdom say severe flooding in Western Europe has increased the likelihood of them being caused by climate change.

Climate is rapidly warming
“All available evidence – together with observations for a broader area and different regional climate models – that human-induced climate change has increased the likelihood and severity of such an event and that these changes will persist in a rapidly warming climate,” the statement read. Difficult conclusion for researchers.

From July 12 to 15, heavy rainfall led to severe flooding in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, in Luxembourg, and along the Meuse and some of its tributaries in Belgium and the Netherlands.

saturated soil
At the time of heavy rains, the soil was already partially saturated. Some valleys are very narrow with steep slopes that lead to funnel-like effects during severe floods. The flood killed at least 184 people in Germany and 38 in Belgium and caused significant damage to infrastructure, including homes, highways, railways and bridges.

Using published, peer-reviewed methods, we analyzed how human-induced climate change affected maximum precipitation for one and two days in the summer season (April-September) in two small areas where recent floods were most severe in Ahr. The Erft region (Germany) and the Maas Mountains (Belgium) and everywhere in the greater region including Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

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Main results

The main findings of the researchers are as follows:

  • Heavy rains that caused severe flooding last July in Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands are becoming more likely due to climate change. We can expect a similar event in the current climate once every 400 years or so. This possibility increases as global warming continues.
  • The intensity of precipitation during the summer season in Western Europe increased by about 3 to 19 percent compared to the climate around 1900 when the world was on average 1.2°C cooler than it is today.
  • The probability of similar heavy rains has increased by a factor of 1.2 to 9 since 1900. Depending on emissions in the coming decades, the world may already be 2 degrees warmer by 2040 than it was around 1900. Models show that the intensity of such an event can increase by another 0.8 to 6 percent and the probability by 1.2 to 1.4. This increase may be underestimated because the observed changes in intensity and probabilities are thus far greater than what the models show.
  • Precipitation could also have decreased elsewhere. How does this affect flooding and so the effect depends largely on the area. The measures taken in the Netherlands against floods have helped so that the impact is not greater. Further adaptation helps reduce the negative consequences of heavy rains in the future.

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