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Floods in the light of climate change

06/21/2013 - The nationwide floods have been keeping the country´s attention for some time now. This week, the Minister for the Environment, Peter Altmaier, visited flooded regions near Dessau/Bitterfeld. He was accompanied by Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), who briefed him on the relation between climate change and extreme weather events, as well as a number of other high-ranking experts. In the previous weeks, Gerstengarbe and other PIK scientists have given several interviews on the subject, mainly on the question if climate change is one of the causes for the floods.
Floods in the light of climate change

Peter Altmaier, Minister for the Environment, visited flooded regions this week. (Photo: BMU/Thomas Trutschel, photothek.net )

Gerstengarbe explained in Süddeutsche Zeitung that floods like the recent one can occur at any time. There is a rising probability of similar weather conditions, Gerstengarbe said on ntv. This would make floods more likely. In several radio and television interviews as well as for example Tagesspiegel, hydrologist Fred Hattermann explicated that more floods in the future could be expected.

PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber called climate change an “interesting suspect” in a dpa-interview. Normally, weather conditions are determined by the air streams that run in about eight to ten kilometers altitude from the Atlantic to the East, Schellnhuber explained. Flaws in these air streams occurred more often in the last decades. A recent study by PIK scientists examined this effect in regard to climate change as one possible reason. On this matter, Vladimir Pethoukov, lead-author of that study, spoke to Chinese news agency Xinhua and Russian magazine Expert. Stefan Rahmstorf, co-author of the study talked about the possible links with AFP as well as in his blog.

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