Limburg flooding caused by climate change, researchers find
Extreme rainfall like that which led to flooding in Limburg and other parts of western Europe last month is now more common due to climate change, an international group of researchers found. The amount of precipitation during this type of downpour also increased by between 3 and 19 percent, the researchers, which include a number of Dutch climate scientists, concluded, NOS reports.
Between July 12 and 15, Limburg, Belgium and Germany were hit by extreme flooding following days of downpours. The flooding caused major damages in Valkenburg, and at least 220 deaths in Belgium and Germany.
"We looked at the precipitation that led to these floods and see that it indeed became more intense due to the changing climate and that this precipitation also occurs more often due to climate change," researcher Sjouke Philip of Dutch meteorological institute KNMI said to the broadcaster.
How much more often is hard to say, due to a major uncertainty margin. The researcher compared the current situation of the planet being 1.2 degrees warmer to the mid-19th century, before greenhouse gas emissions started. "The probability of such an event occurring now is increased by a factor of between 1.2 and 9 in this region," they concluded in their report.
The July floods were caused by a combination of factors, including the ground already being soaked by previous showers, warmer air holding more water vapor, and that air staying in the same place for a long time. The researchers think that such a confluence of circumstances can occur in the area between the Alps and the Netherlands once every 400 years. But they stressed that this does not mean that it will be hundreds of years before it happens again. There is a chance every year.