From China to Germany, floods expose climate vulnerability 由中國到德國 洪水暴露氣候脆弱性

  • Jul 17, 2021
  • Taipei Times

Deadly floods that have upended life in both China and Germany have sent a stark reminder that climate change is making weather more extreme across the globe.

At least 56 people in the central Chinese province of Henan died on Tuesday last week, including a dozen trapped in a city subway as waters tore through the regional capital of Zhengzhou after days of torrential rain.

Coming after floods killed at least 180 people in Germany and another 31 in Belgium two weeks ago, the disaster has reinforced the message that significant changes will have to be made to prepare for similar events in future.

“Governments should first realize that the infrastructure they have built in the past or even recent ones are vulnerable to these extreme weather events,” said Eduardo Araral, associate professor and co-director, Institute of Water Policy, at Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

In Europe, climate change is likely to increase the number of large, slow-moving storms that can linger longer in one area and deliver deluges of the kind seen in Germany and Belgium, according to a study published on June 30 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters entitled “Quasi-Stationary Intense Rainstorms Spread Across Europe Under Climate Change.”

As the atmosphere warms with climate change, it also holds more moisture, which means that when rainclouds break, more rain is released. By the end of the century, such storms could be 14 times more frequent, the researchers found in the study using computer simulations.