Climate change is also affecting floods in Europe

Ongoing climate change is also affecting the frequency and magnitude of flood events. This is stated by a new study produced by various international researchers led by Günter Blöschl of the Technical University of Vienna who used the data collected from different climatic stations throughout Europe.

In particular, researchers focused on floods produced by rivers, a phenomenon that can cause enormous damage. They clearly state that changes in the magnitude of flood events that have occurred in recent decades in Europe can be attributed to ongoing climate change.

However, the same study finds that these climate changes seem to have different effects depending on the geographical area. For example, in north-western Europe floods are increasing, both in intensity and in number, while in southern and eastern Europe they are decreasing.

This is important research because up to now it has never been possible to connect the current climate changes to flood events with the scientific method, also due to the lack of sufficient data.
“Now we have examined this question in great detail and we can say with confidence: yes, the influence of climate change is clear,” says Günter, leaving little room for misunderstanding.

And the effects are not only connected to the fact that a higher temperature level in the atmosphere favors a greater accumulation of water: “Things are more complicated,” reports the same researcher.

In southern Europe, floods are decreasing because climate change is causing less rainfall and higher than average temperatures that evaporate water from the soil. In central and north-western Europe, on the other hand, floods increase because rainfall increases and the soil becomes wetter.

And the increases seem significant: they range from a 23.1% decline per decade to an 11.4% increase per decade. A new reality to which the entire flood management sector will soon have to adapt.

The researchers analyzed data from 3738 stations designed to measure floods in Europe, data collected from 1960 to 2010. The study was published in Nature.

Natalie Ward

I am a graduate student at Wheaton College with a passion for writing and reporting on news that I feel is important. During my academic life, I have always strived to continue educating myself on a wide range of scientific areas and stay on top of the most interesting research. I joined wantingwave.com in July of 2019 as a volunteer contributor, and have since contributed many pieces that have been well received. I am an avid reader of Nature Communications and Scientific American.

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Natalie Ward