Heat in Canada, floods in Germany: are these catastrophes caused by global warming?

The last few weeks have been marked by several catastrophes that are worrying experts.

After the deadly heat wave that hit North America, with temperatures reaching 49.6 °C, Central Europe was this week hit by a deluge that has already left over 100 dead and a thousand missing.

The most serious situation is in Germany, with several locations completely submerged. The images reveal a scenario of great destruction and also the despair of those who face a situation unprecedented in the last hundred years.

Similar flash flood incidents were also reported in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland throughout this week. Also in England, some areas of London registered rain equivalent to a month in just one day.

This happens after the city of New York, on the other side of the Atlantic, was affected by severe flooding, last Thursday, in the wake of Hurricane Elsa.

This succession of catastrophic natural phenomena has rekindled the debate about the consequences of man-made global warming.

A TVI gathered the opinion of some experts in the field, who tried to explain the origin of the most recent catastrophes.

Are these phenomena unprecedented?

Scientists have long predicted that human emissions would trigger more floods, heat waves, droughts, storms and other forms of extreme weather, but the latest spikes have far exceeded expectations in the negative.

Pedro Garret, researcher at the Faculty of Sciences at Univ. Lisbon, he explained to TVI that it is not clear whether the extreme rains recorded in Germany are a direct result of global warming, but there are signs.

Floods and droughts have always been there. But today we are talking about a bigger dimension. We found that, in the last 20 years (and this is very well known) that this type of event has been more frequent, more localized and more intense”, he explained, noting that with the warmer atmosphere at exactly 1.2°C since the era of the industrial revolution, water evaporates more and the atmosphere retains more moisture.

In the case of Canada, the researcher stated that the heat waves are enhanced by a weakening of the wind barrier that separates the cold temperatures of the Arctic from the others.

The arctic is warming up at a much faster rate than the rest of the planet.” based Pedro Garrett.

Now, in the last ten years, these systems “lock up” and we have an amplified temperature effect, with radiation hitting directly on the surface, which also heats up and radiates more energy.

The combination of these phenomena significantly amplify the temperature records that we have been recording”, explained, adding that the United States “may go through the weekend for the third consecutive heat wave”

Will the catastrophes get worse?

Fact is, the seven hottest years on record have occurred since 2014, largely as a result of global warming. Computer models predict this will lead to more extreme weather, meaning records will be broken more often and in more places.

I’m surprised at how much above the previous record”, said Dieter Gerten, professor at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, to The Guardian.

With climate change, we expect all hydro-meteorological extremes to become more extreme. What we saw in Germany is largely consistent with this trend. ” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service at the European Center for Medium-Term Weather Forecasts.

Pedro Garrett also stated that global warming makes these phenomena more intense and the capacity for forecasting is decreasing.

What can we do to change?

Pedro Garret explained that even if we manage to stop the emission of greenhouse gases now, the temperature would continue to increase and the effects will not disappear completely.

And it won’t be in our lives, nor in our children’s”, pointed out the investigator, admitting that “we are suffering what has happened in the last 100 years”

The Portuguese investigator left a warning:

If we comply with the Paris agreement, there is a 50% chance that we will not reach the point of no return- Tthat there are very strong policies, but we all have to be in the same boat.

Also the expert Nikos Cristids he told the international press that “This is something that we will have to deal with in the coming decades. So even in the best case scenario, we will still have to learn and adapt to changes that have already been caused by emissions that have already happened.”


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