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More storms, more floods in Germany

05/25/2011 - Weather extremes caused by climate change will significantly increase damage in Germany. For the first time, scientists now developed concrete scenarios on possible effects up to the end of this century. “Major floods will appear two or three times more often in the next decades”, says Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Storm damages could potentially rise by more than 50 percent.
More storms, more floods in Germany

Photo: Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft

For three years, scientists from PIK in collaboration with climate experts from the Free University of Berlin and the University Cologne explored the matter, commissioned by the insurance industry. They fed data on known past damage which were due to extreme weather events into climate models – these are complex calculations of the interactions in the Earth system running on computers. The scientists referred to a middle scenario of climate change, not an extreme one.

Particularly in Northrine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and parts of Lower Saxony the wind could blow harder more often, and especially winter storms will increase, the study says. The eastern part of Germany is likely to be hit by summer thunderstorms more often and more intensely from 2040 on. The hitherto most expensive storm, “Kyrill” in 2007, cost the insurance industry more than 2.4 billion Euro. In the future, according to the the insurance association, storms like this might occur every ten years on average instead of every fifty years.

“Climate change is happening at our front door”, comments the president of the German Insurance Association, Rolf-Peter Hoenen. “The more CO2 gets emitted, the faster climate change will progress in the future and the more extreme weather events will be seen in Germany.” Therefore, all groups in society are urged to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and to push forward adaptation to already inavoidable climate change, he added.


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