Climate

Thousands Flee As Record Floods Inundate Central Europe

Widespread flooding throughout Central Europe has forced thousands from their homes and killed at least eleven people, with several others missing. The heavy rain expected to continue through Tuesday.

In the Czech Republic, a nationwide state of emergency is in effect and more than 3,000 people have been evacuated across the western part of the country. As the BBC reports, as of Monday morning, the River Vlatava (seen above, via AP) was flowing at 2,800 cubic meters per second — 10 times its normal volume — and is expected to rise again on Tuesday.

In an attempt to stave off a repeat of the historic 2002 floods that killed 70 people and caused an estimated 20 billion Euros worth of damage across the continent, officials in Prague have shut down the city’s subway system and central sewage treatment plant, in addition to erecting flood defenses to protect the historic city center. Outside of Prague, thousands of homes have lost access to water and power as water levels on more than 20 rivers continue to rise.

The federal army has sent 1,760 soldiers to southern and eastern parts of Germany to assist local authorities with flood defenses. According to Der Spiegel, states of emergency have been declared in a number of areas including the Bavarian city of Passau, where the Danube river rose above 12.2 meters on Monday, the highest level ever recorded. The historic city center is under water and the power supply to that district has been shut off.

Road and rail service was disrupted across all three countries following the torrential rains and shipping was stopped on parts of the Danube and Rhine rivers because of the high waters. The risk now extends downstream to other major cities, such as Budapest, located along the Danube.

After enduring a severe winter, Europe faced heavy rainfall throughout the spring. Germany’s National Meteorological Service estimates that 178 percent more rain fell in May than in the previous year. In Austria, the meteorological service said two months of rain had fallen in just two days. Britain suffered the rainiest spring on record. And in Italy, it was the wettest spring in 150 years and coldest in 20.

A study released earlier this year by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association confirmed what scientists have long been saying about the role of climate change in driving extreme precipitation. The study found that extreme precipitation events will become more frequent this century as climate change continues to warm the planet, predicting 20-30 percent more precipitation in the Northern Hemisphere by 2099.

And increasingly, scientists are connecting record Arctic sea ice loss to an increase in extreme weather due to the weakened jet stream. As NOAA explained in a 2012 news release, “… with more solar energy going into the Arctic Ocean because of lost ice, there is reason to expect more extreme weather events, such as heavy snowfall, heat waves, and flooding in North America and Europe.”

Due to heavy rainfall, higher sea-levels and more extreme weather, the European Environment Agency warned earlier this year that increased flooding is likely to be one of the most serious effects of climate change in Europe over the coming decades. Their research also found that half of the 32 member countries of the EEA still lack plans to adapt to the effects of global warming.

15 Responses to Thousands Flee As Record Floods Inundate Central Europe

  1. Superman1 says:

    These articles are the essence of gloom and doom; they remind me of the sensationalist articles on my MSN home page. Let’s see some articles that give us better data on where we are relative to the climate cliff, and what is required to avoid the cliff; i.e., Anderson plus! Finally, let’s see some proposals that go beyond arm-waving, and demonstrate that they have the potential to avoid the cliff. I have yet to see any of the latter here!

  2. Superman1 says:

    Icarus62 has posted one of the best messages I have seen here on the boiling frogs thread, #11. Anyone who missed it would be well advised to read it.

  3. bootsnbolts says:

    *sigh* actually, this article seriously downplays what is going on, and what is coming.

  4. These European floods are a major event and climate scientists are showing that loss of sea ice results in extreme weather. I disagree with ‘Superman1’ above. It’s more than worthwhile to cover these stories and demonstrate the link to climate change. Suppression of their publication as ‘Superman1’ seems to suggest, would reduce impetus to avoid the ‘cliff’ he so passionately describes.

  5. Stefan says:

    I’d say the floods in Central Europe are the consequence of several factors, climate change being only one of them.

    The media and many experts here concentrate on the changes in land use which have been happening for decades. Soil sealing increases the rate of run-off into the rivers and flood protection can raise the water level during a flood surge. These aspects probably contribute to excessive readings like the 12,9 m at Passau, which exceeded the historic record of 1501.

    Of course, there is also the contribution of global warming and its possible changes to the jet stream. It’s certainly remarkable that Central Europe is experiencing the second hundred year flood within only eleven years.

  6. Brooks Bridges says:

    And Oklahoma has had two max size tornadoes a few days apart (E5?).

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It is perhaps irrelevant to observe, as rapid climate destabilisation is surely sufficient on its own to terminate the Homo sapiens experiment, but the general state of ecological crisis caused by our destruction of the planet’s biospheres in pursuit of the Great God, Capital (make that ‘Kapital’), will certainly exacerbate each individual disaster.

  8. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, it is important that people see it happening all over the world. Isolated incidents in your own country can be written off as flukes but when people see e.g. the increasing frequency, and size, of the OK tornados and then the European floods, the reality starts to peep through, ME

  9. Brooks Bridges says:

    Mulga,
    Many “great” civilizations destroyed their “world” long before capitalism as we know it appeared. The Greeks were among the few to recognize what they were doing and a few leaders tried to stop the environmental destruction but were overwhelmed by their people who were only doing their best to survive.

    Yes, plutocrats of the time often functioned as your “Capitalists”. So now one easily moves into dangerous territory where one postulates only an exceptionally wise and benevolent dictator can save the day. One who will not be corrupted by power. Good luck.

    So, capitalism is simply the plutocratic flavor of our time.

    If you haven’t, Read “A Short History of Progress” and if you have the patience, “Collapse”, .

  10. Brooks Bridges says:

    The Union of Concerned Scientists has its Doomsday clock for all threats to humanity including climate change. It has no specifics.

    I agree it’s past time for something similar for climate change but with significantly more detail – a central site to present simple, clear charts, pictures, messages, showing our chances of survival and making clear how we’re not getting there. I think some of the graphs and charts Kevin Anderson’s video on Emperor’s clothes could be a starting point.

    I’d also like to see some the temperature projections converted to resulting heat wave temperatures for NYC, Paris, etc. People need something they can relate to – hockey stick is NOT, 2 or 4 deg C is NOT.
    120+ deg F in NYC in 2040 during heat wave IS.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I prefer ‘Great Leaders’ who lead by example and by strength of character. Until we return to a small population suited to the planet’s needs, and basically become self-governing, I think that a benign ruling elite is preferabe to a psychopathic, misanthropic, utterly destructive, infinitely avaricious one, such as we currently suffer under. That’s why I think that the Chinese system has great advantages.
    A single ruling party of power, that any may join, is, in my opinion, preferable to the capitalist alternative of a ruling plutocracy to which membership is strictly curtailed, mostly hereditary, or goes to the most unscrupulous types amongst the ‘other ranks’. Beneath that real ruling party jostle two or more parties, whose tactics of crude oppositionalism, sabotage, character assassination and the fomenting of fear and hatred to appeal to the worst instincts of the worst voters, leads to ineffectual policy dictated not by utilitarian, rational and moral principles, but the overwhelming lust to gain and hold power. To have the political process turned into a sort of undeclared civil war, where ever-rising levels of hatred are mobilised, and various groups routinely demonised, vilified and oppressed, is a recipe for real civil war. We have just endured three years of just such rising hatred and viciousness, to be crowned by a landslide for the most aggressively Rightwing mob in our history.
    The Chinese interested in politics, either to serve his country or to further his ambition, joins the party of power, rises according to ability, is tested at higher and higher levels of responsibility, and is, theoretically, responsible to the people, through the party, not to a plutocratic elite. Of course, these being humans, there is corruption, nepotism, intrigue, error and personal antipathy, but the results have startled the world. The Chinese system mimics the old Mandarinate and the Civil Service, with the people putatively replacing the Emperor as the Sovereign. Such a system keeps private money power under some constraint, and plans for the future according to scientific and rational decision-making. Things are not left entirely to ‘The Market’, the cynical euphemism for the money power of the rich. Such systems would inevitably have local characteristics according to local conditions and traditions, but such benign stewardship seems to me infinitely preferable to the lowest common denominator social chaos and bitterness of hugely unequal capitalist dystopias.

  12. Will Fox says:

    Surely a resource-based economy (RBE) is what’s needed?

    (see “Zeitgeist: Moving Forward”)

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Will, anything is better than coerced auto-genocide to feeds the insatiable avaricious of a tint, evil, elite.

  14. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    How about a ‘Needs’ based economy. ‘From each according to his ability (pretty near infinite, particularly in groups over time)to each according to his needs’. Need, not greed, as MK Gandhi observed.