Climate change: Deadly floods 20% more likely

Climate change has made deadly floods in Western Europe like these at least 20% more likely to happen, according to a study.

The July rainfall triggered flooding that swept away houses and power lines, and left more than 200 people dead, mostly in Germany.

Dozens died in Belgium and thousands were also forced to flee their homes in the Netherlands.

Scientists say the downpour was likely made heavier by climate change.

A day of rainfall can now be up to 19% more intense in the region than it would have been, had global atmospheric temperatures not risen by 2.16 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial temperatures.

The study was conducted by the World Weather Attribution (WWA) scientific consortium.

Climate scientist Friederike Otto is the group's co-leader.

"What used to be a one in 100 year event that you might have used as a benchmark to prepare your systems has changed and is now more intense. // The most important lesson is really: extreme weather is deadly and we need to educate ourselves to take warning seriously."

The 39 WWA scientists conducted their analysis over a wider area spanning parts of France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

They used local weather records and computer simulations to compare the July flooding event with what might have been expected in a world unaffected by climate change.

Because warmer air holds more moisture, summer downpours in this region are now 3-19% heavier than they would be without global warming, the scientists found.

And the event itself was anywhere from 1.2 to 9 times -- or 20% to 800% -- more likely to have occurred.

With extreme weather events dominating news headlines in recent years,

scientists have been under increasing pressure to determine exactly how much climate change is to blame.

During the last year alone, researchers found that U.S. drought, a deadly Canadian heat wave

and wildfires across the Siberian Arctic have been worsened by a warming atmosphere.

Climate scientist Ralf Toumi is from the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London.

"The fact that people are losing their lives in one of the richest countries in the world is truly shocking. And I think what it tells you, or tells me, is actually nowhere is safe. So if we know that there's more extreme rainfall that can happen anywhere, any time, and we sort of thought to ourselves, well, you know, Germany is going to be in good shape. If Germany is not in good shape, who's going to be in good shape? And they clearly weren't, they were caught out. So I think... you know... nowhere is really safe."

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