Floods in Europe: why science can’t yet predict severe floods like those in Germany and Belgium
- BBC News World
Worst floods in decades.
This is what Germany and Belgium witnessed this week, with more than 150 deaths recorded.
Record rains caused rivers to inundate their banks, decimating the area and completely destroying some villages.
Experts argue that the catastrophic floods in Western Europe are part of Reported disaster facts And that the culprit is climate change.
Other specialists say that while weather alerts have been raised about incoming rain, it was not expected to be of such magnitude and that better forecasting tools are needed.
“Squeeze more water”
Many factors contribute to flooding, but warmer weather due to climate change increases the likelihood of heavy rains.
The planet has already warmed by about 1.2°C since the industrial age began, and temperatures will continue to rise unless governments around the world make drastic cuts in carbon dioxide emissions.
“Such weather events (in Europe) happen from time to time. But now, with the general warming of the climate and rising temperatures, the air masses can contain more and more water vapor,” explained Thomas Indrolat of the Meteorological Service in Germany. to Reuters.
“So when this congestion happens, More water is squeezed out of this cloud sponge due to climate change.”
In particular, referring to the weather forecasts given to Germany before these floods, the specialist said that the warnings were issued on time but there are things that cannot be predicted.
“The rain warnings were on time. But what happens is more difficult Depends on the date and saturation of the soilAnd theIn addition to the condition of dams and reservoirs. It also depends on the time factor: if something like this happens at night, if people don’t know what the sirens mean or if it’s hard to reach them through the media,” Indrolat explained.
“These conditions are always different. Which is why it’s so much more complex than a simple weather forecast,” his analysis read.
For her part, the environment minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Ursula Heinen Esser, said on Friday that the main cause of the tragedy was climate change.
“The challenge is that sometimes we have to deal with severe droughts and sometimes very heavy rains,” he told local newspaper Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger.
Soil “can hardly absorb more water due to drought in previous years and rain in recent weeks,” he said, adding that in this case “It is virtually impossible to respond in the short term.”
Reported disaster facts
Scientists have predicted for years that rain and heat waves will become more intense due to climate change.
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And they constantly warn politicians that more must be done to protect citizens from extreme weather events, such as the floods in Europe and the heat dome that hit North America a few days ago.
“Deaths and devastation in Europe as a result of the floods is a tragedy that should have been avoided,” Hannah Cloke, professor of hydrology at the University of Reading in the UK, told BBC environment analyst Roger Harappen.
“Meteorologists issued alerts earlier in the week, and so far Warnings not taken seriously enough And the preparations were not enough.”
“The fact that other parts of the Northern Hemisphere are experiencing unprecedented heat waves and fires should serve as a reminder of just how dangerous our climate is in a warming world,” Kluck said.
Scientists say governments should reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that fuel extreme events and prepare for more extreme weather.
In a more general analysis of these extreme events on the planet, scientists also warn of the difficulties they face in predicting them.
They realize that their computers are not powerful enough to accurately discern the severity of these events.
Some experts are asking governments to invest in a Shared climate supercomputer, the new “bible” of climate science, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
But former chief scientist at the UK Met Office Professor Dame Julia Slingo told the BBC this would not be entirely helpful “because the IPCC (climate computer) models are not good enough”.
“(We need) an international center to make a quantum leap in climate models that capture the underlying physics that drive extremes,” he said.
“Unless we do that, We will continue to minimize the severity/frequency of extreme(s) and its increasingly unprecedented nature.”
Oxford University professor Tim Palmer agrees.
“It is impossible to determine the degree of emergency we feel because of it We don’t have the tools To answer that question, Palmer told BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin.
“We need commitment and insight into the scale of CERN (Europe’s leading physics research center) if we are to build climate models that can accurately simulate extreme weather events like the heat wave in Canada,” he warned.
Most importantly, researchers must assess whether places like North America or Germany will experience extreme weather events such as heat dome and flooding every 20, 10, 5, or even every year.
Currently, this level of accuracy is not possible.
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