400 year floods hit Europe. Cause becoming familiar. Time for Action Now.

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Extreme and unprecedented flooding is occurring in Europe.

Courtesy: Dr. Jeff Masters

Europe is famous for preserving its history for hundreds, even a thousand years. That record keeping also extends into weather and climate.

The Danube River in Passau, Germany hit the highest level since 1501, and the Saale River in Halle, Germany was the highest in its 400-year period of record. Numerous cities recorded their highest flood waters in more than a century, although in some locations the great flood of 2002 was higher. The Danube is expected to crest in Hungary’s capital city of Budapest on June 10 at the highest flood level on record, 35 cm [1ft] higher than the record set in 2006.

20130611-074752.jpg
The Danube in Germany.
Remember our early May heat?

Remember this image of the ‘blocking high’ that gave us that heat?
20130506-080011.jpg

Well then this should look and sound familiar. But it didnt just cause record rainfall and flooding, note what I bolded below:

The primary cause of the torrential rains over Central Europe during late May and early June was [a] large loop in the jet stream that developed over Europe and got stuck in place.

The stuck jet stream pattern also caused record May heat in northern Finland and surrounding regions of Russia and Sweden, where temperatures averaged an astonishing 12°C (21°F) above average for a week at the end of May. All-time May heat records–as high as 87°F–were set at stations north of the Arctic Circle in Finland.

And here is an image that Dr. Masters has provided that shows this extreme Jetstream pattern compared to a normal flow. Blue indicates southerly flow, red, northerly flow.
extremejet.png

Notice July 2011 was in the middle of our ultimate ‘bummer summer’ while the rest of the continent baked. And the May image shows the blocking just after my image above after the jet had migrated East a little bit which broke our heatwave.

Is all of this only seeming like it is happening because we are all so connected to 24hr news outlets? Emphasis added below:

If it seems like getting two 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year floods in eleven years is a bit suspicious–well, it is. Those recurrence intervals are based on weather statistics from Earth’s former climate. We are now in a new climate regime with more heat and moisture in the atmosphere, combined with altered jet stream patterns, which makes major flooding disasters more likely in certain parts of the world, like Central Europe. As I discussed in a March 2013 post, “Are atmospheric flow patterns favorable for summer extreme weather increasing?“, research published this year by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in German found that extreme summertime jet stream patterns had become twice as common during 2001 – 2012 compared to the previous 22 years.

The cause remains Arctic warming and melt. The ultimate cause of that warming remains CO2 emissions and overzealous fossil fuel use.

This is not cause for despair and apathy, this should be cause for action. Locally, Provincially, Nationally, Globally, we must demand better of ourselves and our politicians.

There are solutions. There are alternative directions to go.

Please consider in every debate you hear in the press about whatever issue. Does it impact our fossil fuel use? If it does, the evidence is clear, the effects are staggering and will only build, we must take the path of least impact.