Climate scientists are said to be in shock over how quickly devastating floods overwhelmed western Germany as well as parts of the Netherlands and Belgium this week, which they say is ‘almost certainly’ down to climate change.
The floods have reportedly taken over 200 lives at the time of writing this article, injuring a further 700 with hundreds more missing.
Specialists had historically predicated that climate change would lead to extreme ‘swings’ in weather, causing flooding, heatwaves and droughts. Though floods have always occured, it is argued that they have rarely been this intense nor so many rainfall records broken in such a short space of time.
Severe damage to infrastructure meant that roads were blocked and phone lines were down, thwarting rescue efforts and detroying whole towns in the process.
What’s the science? In a nutshell, as the planet gets warmer due to emissions released by (mostly) human activities, the atmosphere holds more moisture, creating more rain and subsequently flooding.
Flash floods also occurred in London, the Midlands and Edinburgh last week, though not as deadly as those happening across Europe, disruptive climate change is already happening.
Mike Kendon (climate information scientist at the UK Met Office) and his team of scientists have published a shocking report on UK State of the Climate.
The year 2020 was the third warmest, fifth wettest and eight sunniest on record, scientists said. In the space of 30 years, the UK has become 0.9C warmer and 6% wetter.
2020 was the third warmest UK year since 1884; all the years in the top 10 are since 2002. Spring 2020 was the UK’s sunniest on record, and sunnier than most UK summers, last year was also the UK’s fifth wettest year; six of the 10 wettest years have been since 1998.
Scientists have warned that unless we restrict emissions and prevent further global warming, the weather will become more severe and extreme. They also suggest the figures prove climate change is happening now, and is not a future issue.
This is likely to be a major point of discussion at the upcoming COP26 Climate Summit, to be held in the UK this November.