Even A Modest Warming Will Raise Europe’s Flood Risk

Even A Modest Warming Will Raise Europe’s Flood Risk

Floods in York, UK, in 2015. Image: By Symac/Sylvain Machefert, via Wikimedia Commons

Central and western Europe can expect a substantially higher flood risk in the future, even with ambitious cuts in temperature.

If you live in Europe, get ready not only for a warmer future, but for a decidedly wetter one as well – with the likelihood in many regions of more disruption and danger, as the flood risk rises sharply.

Much of the continent is expected to see a steep rise in flood risk in coming years, even under an optimistic climate change scenario of 1.5°C of warming compared with pre-industrial levels.

A study by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC)  assesses the flood impacts for three scenarios – of 1.5°C, 2°C and 3°C warming.

It finds, elaborating the tenor of numerous previous studies, that many risks are growing. Most of central and western Europe will experience a substantial increase in flood risk at all warming levels: the higher the warming, the higher the risk.

The global treaty on tackling climate change, the 2015 Paris Agreement, set 2°C as the maximum tolerable increase in global average temperatures above their pre-industrial level, while urging countries to aim for the much more demanding 1.5°C. How realistic even the 2°C target may prove is hotly debated.

A considerable increase in risk is predicted, even under the most optimistic scenario

Damage from floods across Europe is projected to more than double, from a 113% average increase if warming is kept to 1.5°C, to 145% under the 3°C scenario. In terms of population affected, the projected increase ranges from 86% to 123%.

While the pattern for central and western Europe is one of a consistent increase in flood risk, the study also finds that the risk may actually decrease with warmer temperatures in some parts of eastern Europe, although those results also show a high degree of uncertainty.

Similarly, in Spain, Portugal and Greece, the initial increase in impacts at 1.5°C turns into more uncertain projections for higher warming levels, because of a substantial reduction in annual rainfall.

The JRC analysis, published in the open access journal Climate,  improves scientists’ understanding of future trends in river flood risk in Europe, as well as stressing the need to prepare effective adaptation plans for a probable increase in the severity and frequency of European floods.

Finding the cause

The study authors’ aim was to identify consistent trends, independent of the models used, in flood risk in Europe attributable to climate change, and to identify the reasons for both the differences and the similarities between projections of river flood risk.

The three studies cover a wide range of methods and climate-relevant datasets (including for example temperature and precipitation), hydrological and flood modelling, and impact assessment.

The comparison sheds light on the influence of the data applied and methods used to assess impact projections. Results from the three assessments confirm that climate projections are the main driver influencing future flood risk trends.

The scientists say other factors, such as correcting any bias in climate projections, the method for assessing the year of exceeding global warming levels, and the spatial resolution of the input data did influence the results, but only to a small degree, and without affecting the direction of the projected changes in the three scenarios.

Reliability essential

They also point out the importance of using accurate modelling of the extent of floods to achieve reliable impact estimates. At the moment, this is limited by the availability of high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs – digital representations of ground surfaces) over large areas, where small-scale features can considerably influence the distribution of floodwaters.

The study confirms that global warming has a significant impact on river flood risk in Europe, though it can vary in magnitude from region to region.

Even if global warming is limited to the levels spelt out in the Paris Agreement, changes in regional temperatures (and therefore climate change impacts) can vary significantly from the global average.

The encouraging news is that the results of this study show that substantial worsening of flood risk can be avoided, by limiting global warming to lower temperature thresholds. But a considerable increase in risk is predicted, even under the most optimistic scenario. – Climate News Network

About the Author

Alex Kirby is a British journalistAlex Kirby is a British journalist specializing in environmental issues. He worked in various capacities at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for nearly 20 years and left the BBC in 1998 to work as a freelance journalist. He also provides media skills training to companies, universities and NGOs. He is also currently the environmental correspondent for BBC News Online, and hosted BBC Radio 4's environment series, Costing the Earth. He also writes for The Guardian and Climate News Network. He also writes a regular column for BBC Wildlife magazine.

Related Books:

List Price: $27.00
Sale Price: $27.00 $16.20 You save: $10.80
Product Description: NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"The Uninhabitable Earth hits you like a comet, with an overflow of insanely lyrical prose about our pending Armageddon."—Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon


It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, “500-year” storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions annually.

This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await—food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. But the world will be remade by warming in more profound ways as well, transforming our politics, our culture, our relationship to technology, and our sense of history. It will be all-encompassing, shaping and distorting nearly every aspect of human life as it is lived today.

Like An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring before it, The Uninhabitable Earth is both a meditation on the devastation we have brought upon ourselves and an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation.



List Price: $23.00
Sale Price: $23.00 $14.95 You save: $8.05
Product Description: New York Times bestseller

The 100 most substantive solutions to reverse global warming, based on meticulous research by leading scientists and policymakers around the world

“At this point in time, the Drawdown book is exactly what is needed; a credible, conservative solution-by-solution narrative that we can do it. Reading it is an effective inoculation against the widespread perception of doom that humanity cannot and will not solve the climate crisis. Reported by-effects include increased determination and a sense of grounded hope.” —Per Espen Stoknes, Author, What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming


“There’s been no real way for ordinary people to get an understanding of what they can do and what impact it can have. There remains no single, comprehensive, reliable compendium of carbon-reduction solutions across sectors. At least until now. . . . The public is hungry for this kind of practical wisdom.” —David Roberts, Vox


“This is the ideal environmental sciences textbook—only it is too interesting and inspiring to be called a textbook.” —Peter Kareiva, Director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA


In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here—some are well known; some you may have never heard of. They range from clean energy to educating girls in lower-income countries to land use practices that pull carbon out of the air. The solutions exist, are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are currently enacting them with skill and determination. If deployed collectively on a global scale over the next thirty years, they represent a credible path forward, not just to slow the earth’s warming but to reach drawdown, that point in time when greenhouse gases in the atmosphere peak and begin to decline. These measures promise cascading benefits to human health, security, prosperity, and well-being—giving us every reason to see this planetary crisis as an opportunity to create a just and livable world.



List Price: $18.00
Sale Price: $18.00 $12.77 You save: $5.23
Product Description:

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST

A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes

Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.




English Afrikaans Arabic Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Traditional) Dutch Filipino French German Hindi Indonesian Italian Japanese Korean Malay Persian Portuguese Russian Spanish Swahili Swedish Thai Turkish Urdu Vietnamese

LATEST VIDEOS

Jay Inslee Tells Hayes That He Wants To Gut The Filibuster To Fight Climate Change
by MSNBC
Washington Governor Jay Inslee is running for president on the single issue of climate change and argues that doing…
Causes and Effects of Climate Change
by National Geographic
What causes climate change (also known as global warming)? And what are the effects of climate change? Learn the human…
Extreme Weather and Global Warming
by NASA Goddard
Is the frequency of extreme weather events a sign that global warming is gaining pace and exceeding predictions? Bill…
Thanks to Climate Change, Wet Winters No Match for Drier California Summers
by KPIX CBS SF Bay Area
If the emerald-green hills around Northern California have you thinking recent rains have put a damper on the fire…
Climate Change Is Not One Issue
by MSNBC
"Climate change is not one issue," said David Wallace-Wells, author of "The Uninhabitable Earth," but is…
The Heat: Climate change
by CGTN America
Images gathered by NASA show an increase in foliage in China and India. The greening effect is mainly due to ambitious…
No company is doing enough to combat climate change: Jeremy Grantham
by CNBC Television
Jeremy Grantham, co-founder of GMO, on climate change and what needs to be done to combat it.
Power Plants Are POISONING Groundwater All Over America
by The Ring of Fire
According to a new report, 90% of coal-fired power plants across the country have completely contaminated the…

LATEST ARTICLES

Default Image
Come on, UK weather forecasters – tell it like it is on climate change
by Adam Corner
They have a national reach that most climate campaigners would die for. They are familiar and respected experts on the…
Green New Deal: 6 places already reducing emissions from buildings
Green New Deal: 6 places already reducing emissions from buildings
by David Roberts
One of the elements of the Green New Deal resolution that has caused the most consternation among critics on the right…
Default Image
UK environmentalists target Barclays in fossil fuels campaign
by Matthew Taylor
A UK-wide campaign is being launched to persuade one of the country’s biggest high street banks to stop investing…
Oceanic carbon uptake could falter
Oceanic carbon uptake could falter
by Tim Radford
What does oceanic carbon uptake achieve? Greenhouse gas that sinks below the waves slows global warming a little and…
Britain (Yes, Rainy Britain) Could Run Short of Water by 2050, Official Says
Britain (Yes, Rainy Britain) Could Run Short of Water by 2050, Official Says
by Global Warming & Climate Change
“Climate change plus growth equals an existential threat,” Mr. Bevan said. To avoid severe water shortages, he added,…
Default Image
Record high US temperatures outpace record lows two to one, study finds
by Associated Press
Over the past 20 years, Americans have been twice as likely to sweat through record-breaking heat rather than shiver…
Climate change: Water shortages in England 'within 25 years'
Climate change: Water shortages in England 'within 25 years'
by BBC News - Science & Environment
Image copyright PA Image caption Low water levels at Wayoh Reservoir near Bolton in the UK heatwave in July 2018 Within…
Default Image
Why you'll never meet a white supremacist who cares about climate change
by Rebecca Solnit
As the news of the Christchurch mosque massacre broke and I scoured the news, I came across a map showing that the…