Climate change could lead to increased extreme rainfall and flooding: study

Future extreme rains could be more severe and frequent than previously thought, new data reveals.

Using data obtained from new climate models and the latest IPCC assessment, experts have been able to analyze the severe floods that occurred around the world in 2021 and project expectations for the future.

And these expectations are not good.

Currently, the Scottish city of Glasgow, which is host to the UN climate conference known as COP26, sees occasional days of rain with 30mm or more of rain per hour. However, assuming temperatures rise by around 3 ° C by 2070, these extreme rains in Glasgow could be 3.5 times more likely and 2.5 times more likely in London.
An hour of 30mm of rain is considered the threshold that triggers flash flood warnings and often leads to general flash floods. Since rainy days like this are more likely, it looks like flash floods could be more likely in the future as well.

Nahariya man drowns in flood while trying to save others (credit: NOAM FLAKSA / TPS)

This projected temperature rise is greater than the expected outcome of COP26, but it is important to use these plausible elevated emissions for long-term risk assessment. This is especially true with regard to the recent floods, which have shown that the problem is more urgent than previously thought.

In the UK, for example, the 10 wettest years on record have all been since 2000.

In the summer of 2021 devastating floods were seen in Central Europe, the London Underground and Zhegzhou, China.

During the European floods, Western Europe saw two months of rain in some parts over the course of just two days.

This is also in line with recent climate models showing slower moving storms. These can cause a large accumulation of rain, which means it can rain harder for longer.

According to a study by the Met Office and the University of Newcastle, these slow-moving storms will be 14 times more frequent in Europe by 2100, if global temperatures rise by 4.3 ° C.

“Recent developments in high-resolution climate projections allow us to examine changes in future extreme rainfall in unprecedented detail,” Met Office climate scientist Professor Lizzie Kendon said in a statement. statement.

“We are seeing extreme rainfall events becoming more frequent and more intense as a consequence of human-induced climate change. Recent floods around the world show the devastation that heavy rains can cause. By reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, the worst impacts can be avoided, but organizations and individuals must be resilient to the changes in our climate that we are already committed to. “

“Climate change is no longer just a question about the future,” explained Professor Peter Scott, research scientist in climate attribution at the Met Office Hadley Center.

“Since the atmosphere has already warmed by around 1 ° C, it can hold about 7% more moisture than it would have in the pre-industrial period, leading to more extreme rainfall events. In addition to the chances of more extreme rains in the future, we are seeing the influence of climate change on the climate that we are experiencing now. ”

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