Climate change increased the intensity and likelihood of the rainfalls and floods in Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands that killed at least 222 people this summer.
Scientists from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, the United States and United Kingdom who assessed to what extent human-induced climate change altered the likelihood and intensity of heavy rainfall that causes severe flooding.
Within the World Weather Attribution initiative they analyzed rainfall events from April to September in the most affected areas – the Ahr-Erft region in Germany and along the Meuse river in Belgium, but also the wider region. The severest rainfall and floods occurred from July 12 to 15.
Climate change increased the intensity of the floods by about 3% to 19%
The report finds that the flooding was caused by very heavy rainfall over a period of 1-2 days, wet conditions already before the event and local hydrological factors.
Climate change increased the intensity of the floods by 3% to 19% compared to a global climate 1.2 degrees Celsius cooler than today and it also made the floods between 1.2 and nine times more likely to happen, according to the report.
Floods are becoming more frequent
Maarten van Aalst, director of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and a professor at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, said the results indicate such events are becoming more frequent, Bloomberg Green reported.
From July 12 to 15, heavy rainfall associated with cut-off low-pressure system Bernd led to severe flooding particularly in the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as in Luxembourg, and along the river Meuse and some of its tributaries in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Examining how vulnerability and exposure can be reduced becomes critical to reducing future impact
All available evidence taken together gives 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, the report underlines.
The scientists said that given events like this would occur more frequently, examining how vulnerability and exposure can be reduced becomes critical to reduce future impacts.