Extreme conditions in the world are called one of the results of climate change. For example, floods are caused by global warming. Higher temperatures slow the movement of storms, and warmer atmospheres hold more moisture, scientists say. As a result, last week one of the richest regions of Western Europe was simply "washed away", and the number of human victims and missing persons reaches several hundred.
Floods cover Europe and China
In Western Europe, two days (July 14 and 15) fell a two-month norm of precipitation, while the soil was already oversaturated. In Germany and Belgium, flooding followed record rainfall that overflowed rivers. Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, as well as parts of northeastern France, were also hard hit.
From unprecedented fires in Western North America to devasting floods in Europe: The most recent and accelerating climate change impacts constitute a clarion call to action at the @UN climate conference #COP26 in November. See @WMO summary of impacts: https://t.co/vtqfhlU01h pic.twitter.com/3fUoy9xHYP— UN Climate Change (@UNFCCC) July 19, 2021
In addition, on 12 July, flash flooding paralyzed London's transport network, as about 70 mm of rain fell in a densely populated urban area in a short period of time.
Today, the city of Zhengzhou in China received the highest amount of rainfall on a day in history, equivalent to 8 months of rain in one day. The UN associates the flooding in China with climate change.
But how did the natural disaster come as a surprise? Flood early warning systems exist in Europe. This time the system issued a warning: very serious rains and floods are coming.
At the international level, coordination of efforts is more difficult. Local authorities have interpreted the system's warning in different ways. Somewhere they took measures, but somewhere people did not even know that bad weather was approaching.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Germany needs to prepare much better in the future, adding that this is a consequence of climate change.
Cause of floods
Warming atmosphere caused by climate change increases the likelihood of heavy rainfall. Since the beginning of the industrial era, the world has already warmed by about 1.2 degrees Celsius and temperatures will continue to rise.
“The storm was heavy, there was a lot of rain, it was slow - we have evidence that such storms will be more likely in the future. This is one of those things that you expect to see in a changing climate,” says Professor of Hydrology Hannah Klock, one of the founders of the EU flood warning program.
Dramatic climate impacts continue around the world. Zhengzhou in China has seen the highest daily rainfall since weather records began, receiving the equivalent of 8 months of rain in a single day. #COP26 pic.twitter.com/7dtyHLUD6J— UN Climate Change (@UNFCCC) July 21, 2021
Extreme showers will only increase in frequency further, explained Haley Fowler, professor of climate change impacts at the University of Newcastle. Global warming slows down the jet stream, which slows the movement of storms, while a warmer atmosphere can also hold more moisture.
"Extreme showers will intensify, and the most extreme ones will become more frequent," she said. Flooding in Germany came shortly after heatwaves brought record temperatures to North America.
Countries may need to redesign infrastructure systems to cope with such events.
The UK Met Office has published a study in the journal Climate Change examining how global warming can affect adverse weather conditions. The higher the level of global warming, the greater the projected increase in the frequency or severity of heat, drought and floods.
While Western Europe was hit by floods, Northern Europe was swept by intense heat. Finland was the warmest June on record. According to the Finnish Meteorological Service, the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea has a record temperature: up to +26.6 degrees on July 14, which is the warmest since the start of registration 20 years ago.
Also, an abnormal heatwave in Russia caused forest fires in Siberia. In Yakutia, they have been going on for over a month. The fire destroyed more than 1.5 million hectares of forest.
The western United States and Canada were also hit by the heat, with many records broken during the latest heatwave in the Southwestern United States. For example, Las Vegas set a record 117 ° F (47.2 ° C). Death Valley California recorded a temperature of 130 ° F (54.4 ° C) on July 9, according to the US National Weather Service.
Drought and heat have contributed to wildfires in the western United States and western and central Canada. Fires continue in 13 states. The fire has already burned more than 4800 sq. km of forest, about 20 thousand firefighters and volunteers are trying to overcome the elements. After the state of Oregon, where more than 1200 sq. km, the most affected were California, Idaho and Alaska.
A record heatwave in parts of the United States and Canada in late June would have been virtually impossible without the impact of anthropogenic climate change. This is reported in an analysis by an international team of climate scientists.
Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions has increased the likelihood of abnormal heat waves by at least 150 times.