Floods in Britain are now 11 percent worse than ten years ago due to the impact of climate change.
Experts used data from more than 3,700 monitoring stations throughout Europe taken between 1960 and 2010 to make the first continental study of changes in flood episodes.
Floods caused by flooded rivers cause around $ 104 billion (£ 85 billion) of damage worldwide every year – a figure that will rise with increasing urbanization.
Scientists had long suspected that climate change could change the extent of flooding.
Due to different regional precipitation levels and a lack of large-scale data on flood patterns, it was rather impossible to test this hypothesis.
Northern England and southern Scotland have witnessed a flood increase of more than 11 percent, while the study found a 23 percent decrease in Russia.
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Floods in Britain are now 11 percent worse than ten years ago due to the impact of climate change. The figure shows the increase (blue) and decrease (red) in the average of river floods in Europe from 1960–2010
HOW HAS CLIMATE CHANGE influenced EUROPE'S FLOORS?
Flood events have increased the most in the following regions, with growth of more than 5 percent per decade:
Smaller increases have also been observed in:
- Coast of Norway
- North France
The largest decreases were observed in Ukraine, with a 10 percent reduction in flood events per year.
Significant decreases (of more than 5 percent) were also seen in:
- The Balkan
Günter Blöschl of the Vienna University of Technology and colleagues analyzed water drainage data recorded at 3,738 flood monitoring stations throughout Europe for a period of fifty years from 1960 to 2010.
The researchers also analyzed changes in important flood drivers – including the maximum precipitation speed, air temperatures and soil moisture levels.
The team has observed marked and varied changes in local flooding rates across Europe, ranging from declines to 23 percent per decade compared to long-term averages to increases of up to 11 percent per decade.
Moreover, the patterns in the changing nature of European flood episodes corresponded to what is expected to result from the effects of our changing climate.
& # 39; Two years ago we were able to demonstrate that temporal patterns change & # 39 ;, said paper author and hydrologist Bruno Merz of the GFZ German geosciences research center.
& # 39; Now, together with international colleagues, we have demonstrated that the severity of events is also influenced by climate change. & # 39;
& # 39; Climate change has long been suspected to have an impact on the extent of flooding, because a warmer atmosphere can store more water & # 39 ;, added professor Blöschl.
& # 39; But that's not the only effect, flooding is more complicated. & # 39;
The researchers discovered that floods are increasing in Central and Northwestern Europe, in the area between Iceland and the Alps, due to rising rainfall levels and an increase in soil moisture.
Floods caused by flooded rivers cause around $ 104 billion (£ 85 billion) of damage worldwide every year. Illustrated, local and regional changes (with increases in blue and decreased in red) in river discharges from 1960–2010
Floods outside Shrewsbury Abbey, in Shropshire, England, in 2000. Here the waters are depicted at the highest level
The researchers, on the other hand, discovered that the floods decreased to a large extent in Southern Europe, where climate change causes both less frequent rainfall and higher temperatures that evaporate more moisture from the soil.
Small rivers in this area are perhaps more prone to flooding, the researchers found.
This is due to more frequent thunderstorms and changes in land management – such as deforestation – that may increase the risk of flooding.
Finally, the researchers note that flood levels are also falling in the more continental climates of Eastern Europe, but they attribute this trend to the decreasing amount of snow that falls every winter.
A woman is standing on a flooded street in Hull during the floods in the UK in 2007
Flooding outside a restaurant in Chesterfield, England, in June 2007
For the researchers, these findings emphasize the importance of considering the future effects of climate change when developing flood management strategies.
& # 39; Regardless of the efforts needed to mitigate climate change, we will see the consequences of these changes in the coming decades & # 39 ;, concluded Professor Blöschl.
& # 39; Water safety must adapt to these new realities. & # 39;
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature.
WHAT SHOULD THE EU PROTECT PEOPLE FROM CLIMATE CHANGE?
In 2013, the Science Advisory Council (EASAC) of the European Academies published a report that looked at the frequency of extreme weather conditions.
Since then there has been a continuous increase in how often these events occur.
To cope with such adverse weather conditions, they have made recommendations on how the EU can better protect its citizens against climate change.
The report claimed that it is necessary to first understand them in order to best handle the problems.
To understand how global warming will affect extreme weather conditions, it is necessary to study and model it.
2. Heat waves
Over the entire European continent, heat waves can vary enormously and have hugely different effects.
Understanding the nuances of these phenomena is the key to weathering the storm.
3. Water safety and early warning
Good practice for flood preparation and flood protection should be shared throughout Europe, including information on different responses to flood preparation and flood warnings.
The report stated that the agricultural sector as a whole should improve.
Vulnerability to extreme weather and possible measures to increase resilience must be produced.
5. Strengthen the knowledge of climate change
The research showed that it was crucial that we considered adaptation to climate change as a continuous process.
To do this, ongoing observations, analysis and climate modeling about the Earth are an integral part of a robust and flexible strategy for adaptation to climate change.
It claims that knowledge dissemination, innovation and building international relationships is crucial.
6. Policy changes
Before adaptation can be achieved, there are various barriers, including physical, technical, psychological, financial, institutional and knowledge-based barriers.
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