Extreme levels of flood danger were announced this week in parts of West Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. What caused this flood, and why did it cause so much destruction?
– Exceptional Weather Event –
“Large volumes of water-filled air masses were blocked at altitude by cold temperatures, which have been stagnant for four days in the region,” explains Jean Jusel, a former vice-president of the IPCC, a group of UN climate experts.
The result was heavy rains from July 14 to 15, reaching “100 and 150 millimeters”, equivalent to two months of rain, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Although the area is used for heavy rains, these are “exceptional in terms of the amount of water they spill and its violence,” says Guy Schrter, a hydrologist at the University of Botham.
– Global warming? –
The debate is intense. Many European political leaders clearly establish a connection between the two, but the German far-right rejects this interpretation and shouts “instrument”.
“At the moment, it is not possible to say for sure that this phenomenon is related to climate change,” but Guy Schrter estimates that such extreme events “occur more frequently and become more frequent” due to global warming.
He adds that the planet’s warming machines are increasing steam from the oceans and rivers, which “brings more water into the atmosphere.”
The researcher says this phenomenon increases the risk of intense and violent rain.
More generally, the IPCC says extreme weather events are more likely to be caused by global warming.
– Small Protected Water Courses –
Why so many victims? The rains suddenly increased the flow of small rivers and tributaries that were not able to withstand so much water and were not protected on sufficiently high banks.
“The Rhine is used for flooding, the biggest problem is small rivers and tributaries,” Armin Laschett, head of the German Rhine Westphalia region, said Friday.
“Larger rivers are slower and wider, water rises more slowly, and unlike smaller rivers we have more time to produce,” says Schrter.
– No product? –
Some German media and experts question the fact that the authorities are not prepared, they do not know the people well in advance.
“Researchers … issued warnings, but the warnings were not taken seriously and the arrangements were inadequate,” estimates Hannah Clock, a professor of hydrology at the University of Reading in the UK.
In addition, a lack of awareness of people living in flood prone areas regarding these hazards has been noted.
“Some victims underestimate the risk and do not respect two basic rules during heavy rains: avoid foundations where water enters, and immediately cut off electricity,” said Armin Schuster, president of BBK, a public organization that specializes in natural disasters. Built newspaper.
Dozens of dead were found in their basement.
– Review Urban Planning –
Some experts point to urban and the growing cement in the soil of West Germany, the economic center of Europe.
“Urbanization played a major role in these regions (in tragedy). Would so many people have died forty years ago?” Asks Jean Jussel.
The artificiality of the land prevents water from penetrating into the soil, which no longer plays the role of a sponge, increasing the risk of flooding.