Climate change: Extreme rain that caused Europe floods made more likely by global warming, scientists warn

·2-min read

Climate change has made the kind of heavy rainstorms that drove the devastating floods seen in western Europe more likely, scientists have warned.

The World Weather Attribution group said that ​​the floods in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were caused by extreme rainfall events that are now between 1.2 and 9 times more likely to happen because of global warming.

By analysing weather records and using computer simulations, they also found that such downpours are now 3-19% heavier in the region, compared to when the climate was 1.2C cooler in the late 19th century.

Record-breaking amounts of rain fell on Germany and Belgium in July, killing more than 200 people and destroying homes, businesses and infrastructure.

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded there was "unequivocal" evidence that humans are warming the planet - and that this is making extreme weather events increasingly more likely and more severe.

Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute climate researcher Dr Sjoukje Philip said: "We combined the knowledge of specialists from several fields of study to understand the influence of climate change on the terrible flooding last month, and to make clear what we can and can not analyse in this event.

"It is difficult to analyse the climate change influence on heavy rainfall at very local levels, but we were able to show that, in Western Europe, greenhouse gas emissions have made events like these more likely."

Associate director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, Dr Friederike Otto, said: "These floods have shown us that even developed countries are not safe from severe impacts of extreme weather that we have seen and known to get worse with climate change.

"This is an urgent global challenge and we need to step up to it. The science is clear and has been for years."

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Attribution climate science - the practice of directly linking a single weather event to global warming - is a relatively new but rapidly developing field.

The Word Weather Attribution initiative brings together a group of international organisations and scientists who seek to provide real time assessments when extreme events hit.

Recently the group said that the record-breaking heatwave in the Pacific Northwest would have been "virtually impossible" without human-caused climate change.

Sky News has launched the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change.

The Daily Climate Show is broadcast at 6.30pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

Hosted by Anna Jones, it follows Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.

The show also highlights solutions to the crisis and how small changes can make a big difference.

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