Heavy rains are up to 50 times more likely in Libya due to climate change

Heavy rains are up to 50 times more likely in Libya due to climate change

Consequences of devastating floods in Derna, Libya.Bild Anatolia Agency via Getty Images

Climate change has also been a factor in heavy rainfall elsewhere in the Mediterranean region According to scientists important role. It is likely that there will be up to ten times more rain this month in Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria today than in the nineteenth century.

This means that last summer’s heavy rains are no exception: they will be repeated in the future. Therefore, it is more important than ever to properly maintain dikes and flood defenses and establish warning systems. The floods in Libya, which killed more than 10,000 people, show what the consequences could be if this did not happen.

Finished by the author
Maartje Bakker is science editor at the journal De Volkskrant She won one for her work AAAS Kavli Award for Science Journalism, a major international competition for science journalists. She previously worked as a political editor and was a correspondent in Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

Heavy rains are linked to rising global temperatures, which in turn are a result of greenhouse gas emissions. Warm air can contain more water vapor, and this water disperses in greater quantities when it cools.

Throughout the Mediterranean, warming is occurring faster than elsewhere. This was evident again this summer when a myriad of local temperatures were broken. The temperature reached by the sea itself was also significant: 28.71 degrees, higher than ever before. “The Mediterranean is a hotspot for disasters caused by climate change,” said Frederik Otto, lead author of the study.

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Rainfall in Libya was so disproportionate that Otto and her colleagues predicted it would happen only once every 300 to 600 years in the same region under the current climate. But we shouldn’t place too much importance on these precise numbers, says Siuki Philip, who also conducts studies on the relationship between climate change and extreme weather events. “The most important thing is that the chance of this type of precipitation is increasing.”

According to Philip, who works as a climate scientist at KNMI, calculating the probability of an extreme climate event is surrounded by many uncertainties. Extreme cases are simply rare, at least so far. Therefore, frequency is difficult to estimate by definition. In addition, it is important to determine which metric you choose: do you want to know whether the maximum will occur again at a particular measuring station? Or in an entire country? This is important for calculating probability.

Furthermore: The calculations apply to the current climate. But that will not remain as it is. The essence is that it changes, and quickly. To give an idea: now, in 2023, the global temperature will be Increase 1.2 degrees Since the beginning of industrialization. But the forecast is for 1.5 degrees It will already be surpassed in 2034. The chance of heavy rainfall is similarly increasing in many places in the world, certainly also around the Mediterranean.

According to the study conducted by Otto and her colleagues, the rains that fell in Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria this month occur once every 10 years in the current climate. Deaths due to floods were also recorded: 4 in Bulgaria, 5 in Spain, 7 in Turkey, and 17 in Greece. Please note: In the event that an event occurs that is now somewhat normal.

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“More and more people, assets and infrastructure are exposed to flood risks,” confirms Julie Arrighi, director of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Center in The Hague, an organization that also participated in the study. But, says Arrighi, “there are practical solutions to prevent these types of disasters from becoming routine: better emergency response, improved weather forecasting and warning systems, and infrastructure designed for future climate.”

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