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Increased flood risk due to climate change (Brussels)

Increased flood risk due to climate change (Brussels)

An international study links climate change to heavy rainfall in mid-July.

It has already been established that extreme temperatures in Western Europe can be attributed to climate change. But for heavy precipitation, this connection is much more difficult. This also applies to the flooding this summer in the Belgian Meuse Basin and the Ahr-Erft region in Germany: although precipitation amounts exceed historical observations, the areas are too small to achieve reliable results.

An international team, including a number of scientists from RMI, has conducted a large study of severe weather. Prior to this, the study area was expanded to an area in Western Europe that also includes parts of France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Conclusion: “Extreme precipitation always happens and you can’t say July precipitation amounts would not have fallen without climate change. This study suggests that a warming climate increases the likelihood and severity of such extremes, says Stephen Caluerts, a climate scientist at RMI and a professor at Ghent University.

The study shows that – due to a climate change of 1.2 degrees compared to the period 1850-1900 – the chance of intense precipitation in the study area increased by a factor of 1.2 to 9 and intense precipitation increased by 3 to 19 percent. With another increase in the global average temperature, these will increase even more.

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