Europe – Climate change altering the flood regime

© Getty Images

Published in “Nature” on 28 August 2019, an international study shows that climate change is significantly changing the intensity of European river floods, varying from a decrease of up to 23% to an increase of around 11% over the whole of Europe in the next five decades.
The study thus reveals that the higher autumn and winter rainfall has led to an increase in flooding in north-western Europe, while the decrease in rainfall and increase in evaporation have led to a decrease in flooding in the catchment areas of southern Europe. The same situation is found in eastern Europe, where the shrinking snow cover and smaller quantity of melting snow due to higher temperatures has led to a decrease in flooding.
Supported by the most comprehensive database on flooding in Europe from 1960 to 2010, this study follows the 2017 study, which found a gradual shift in the dates of European flood peaks due to climate change. If these trends concerning the dates and intensity of flooding are confirmed in the future, flood risk management (flood zones, prevention and protection measures) will need to factor in this new reality.

© G. Bloeschl et al.,
Changing climate both increases and decreases European river floods, Nature

Regional trends in European flood peaks (1960-2010)

Regional trends in European flood peaks (1960-2010)

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