European floods in the past 26 years have been stronger than in the past five centuries

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European floods in the past 26 years have been stronger than in the past five centuries
European floods in the past 26 years have been stronger than in the past five centuries

Since 1990, Europe has experienced particularly large and more pronounced summer floods compared to the previous 500 years of observations. This conclusion was reached by scientists, whose article was published by the scientific journal Nature. The press service of the Faculty of Geography of Moscow State University writes briefly about this.

“Hydroclimatic conditions in Europe have changed over the past 30 years. Although precipitation leading to flooding is not necessarily due to air temperature anomalies, both are governed by atmospheric circulation, the nature and extent of ocean-atmosphere interactions. However, the use of climate models allows scientists suggest that the current and future increase in precipitation in Europe may be due to thermodynamics - a higher water capacity of the heated atmosphere than changes in circulation, "- writes the press service.

To find out how often floods have occurred in Europe over the past 500 years, researchers compiled a database of nearly 10,000 floods for 103 European river sections. After analyzing it, scientists identified periods during which floods in different regions of Europe occurred most often: from 1500 to 1520, from 1560 to 1580, from 1590 to 1640, from 1630 to 1660, from 1750 to 1800, from 1840 to 1880, from 1860 to 1900, from 1910 to 1940 and from 1990 to 2016.

In each of these periods, floods manifested themselves in different territories. So, in 1592-1640. they manifested themselves only in the Iberian Peninsula and in the south of France, in the years 1860-1890. - in the east of Central Europe, and in 1910-1940. - only in Scandinavia. In other periods, floods were more pronounced. So, in 1750-1790. they struck almost all of Central and Southern Europe, in 1840-1870. - Western and Southern.

The period from 1990 to 2016 was the first in the last 500 years when floods covered all of Western and Central Europe. It is also characteristic that in the past periods of floods coincided with intervals of cooling of the climate, and in the last three decades the frequency of floods has increased against the background of warming, possibly the most significant in the last millennium.

Floods in Russia

As for Eastern Europe, which includes the European part of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic countries, the available data were not enough for the scientists for a full analysis. On this territory, there were only 6 gauging stations, at which sufficiently long - for at least 200 years - observations were carried out. Moreover, even these data were not always suitable for researchers.

"For example, floods on the Neva are caused not by rains or melting snow, but by wind surges from the Baltic. Moreover, the Neva flows from Lake Ladoga, which controls its level. Other East European rivers also stand apart from the Central and Eastern Europe ", - explained one of the participants in the study, professor at Moscow State University Andrei Panin.

"We have a cold winter, and the highest water levels occur during spring floods. Floods in our country are caused by unusually large amounts of snow and a" friendly "spring, and in the northern half of the Russian Plain also by ice jams that dam up rivers flowing to the north," - added the scientist.

According to him, all these phenomena are not typical for Central and Western European rivers. There, floods are caused by heavy downpours, which are sometimes superimposed on snow melt in spring. Therefore, the frequency and spatial distribution of floods determine long-term changes in atmospheric dynamics, for example, the paths, frequency and power of North Atlantic cyclones. However, there are also local factors.

“For which territories of the European part of Russia are the obtained results relevant? As we said above, in the northern and central regions, floods are associated with melted snow waters. in the southern regions - in the Kuban, in the Stavropol region and in the North Caucasus as a whole - the response of hydrological systems to climate warming occurs according to the Central and Western European scenario. This is evidenced by a whole series of devastating floods that have occurred in this region since the beginning of this century ", - explained Panin.

Therefore, in such areas, special attention should be paid to flood protection, flood forecasts, and it is also necessary to restore the network of hydrometric and meteorological observations, the scientist concluded.

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