400% rise in number of floods since 1980; droughts, forest fires doubled since then

In the past three decades years, all climatological, hydrological and meteorological events have increased manifold, says a study

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Wednesday 04 April 2018
Climate change has increased floods and coastal flooding due to sea-level rise. Credit: Meeta Ahlawat
Climate change has increased floods and coastal flooding due to sea-level rise. Credit: Meeta Ahlawat Climate change has increased floods and coastal flooding due to sea-level rise. Credit: Meeta Ahlawat

The rate at which climate change is having an impact of global weather events is alarming, reveals a study conducted by European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC). “Extreme weather events have become more frequent over the past 36 years, with a significant uptick in floods and other hydrological events compared even with five years ago,” says the study titled ‘Extreme weather events in Europe: Preparing for climate change adaptation: an update on EASAC’s 2013 study’.

The number of floods and other hydrological events have quadrupled since 1980 and doubled since 2004, says the study. “Climatological events, such as extreme temperatures, droughts, and forest fires, have more than doubled since 1980. Meteorological events, such as storms, have doubled since 1980,” reveals the study.

Since climate proofing can limit these impacts, the EASAC, an entity made up of 27 national science academies in the European Union, Norway, and Switzerland, has urged leaders and policy makers to improve adaptability of infrastructure and social systems to a changing climate.

While man-made climate change has proven to have increased extreme rainfall and associated floods and coastal flooding due to sea-level rise, it has also triggered cases of heat waves in Australia, China, and Europe and increased risks of wildfires with implications for humans and animals, the environment, and the economy, the study argues.

Highlighting the economic cost of extreme weather events, the report states that economic losses due to thunderstorms in North America have doubled from under US$10 billion in 1980 to almost $20 billion in 2015.

Under such a scenario, the study says that climate-change adaptation has to become a continuous process that relies on continued monitoring of the state of the climate and the environment.

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  • Droughts and floods are part of natural fluctuations in rainfall all over the globe. Indian southwest monsoon rainfall presents 60 year cycle -- IITM published data shows that by 1986 two 60-years cycles have been completed and the third cycle started in 1987 [coinciding Telugu Calendar of 60 years which is lagging by three years to Chinese 60 year cycle. The first 30 years form part of above the average part of the cycle and from 2017 onward the below the average 30 years commenced. In the former more frequent floods and later more frequent droughts. The study carried by the present report started from 1980. That means more years are under above the average and thus more floods. MoEF published frequency of occurrence of floods in north western rivers. The frequency follows this 60-year cycle only.

    It is always important to study the nature of the data and if the data follows cyclic pattern, the selected data must be interpreted accordingly. WMO as back as 1966 published a report on "climate change" wherein they discussed the techniques to study such patterns.

    Also southern parts present a different picture as they receive rainfall in two monsoons and from cyclones in pre- and post-monsoon seasons.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy | 2 years ago | Reply