More Heavy Summer Rain over Europe in the Future

Most people will remember the many pictures of serious flooding in Central Europe during the summer of 2002. Most media attention was given to the flooding of Prague and Dresden. What should we expected to see in the future? New investigations indicate that more of this can be expected to take place as a consequence of global warming.

Drier and yet wetter!

For the first time it has been possible to quantify the likely changes related to summer time precipitation amounts and intensity due to global warming at a European scale.

As part of the Prudence project Dr. Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen & Dr. Ole Bøssing Christensen from the Danish Meteorological Institute have analyzed simulations from the project. The results have been published in Nature (421, pp. 805-806, 2003) -download here or mail for a copy. In their research they conclude that towards the end of the 21st Century:

  1. The total summer time precipitation amounts will be be substantially reduced over major parts of Southern and central Europe.
  2. Intensive rain events - like those leading to the flooding in the Moldau, Donau, Elbe and Rhône in 2002 - will become more frequent and even more. intensive

In other words: When it finally rains in a drier and hotter Europe it pours down.

Top panel: Change in average precipitation in July-August-September from 1961-1990 to 2071-2100 in per cent. Bottom panel: Change in the exceedance of the 99th percentile, i.e., the change in the average precipitation on the 1% of the days during this season and period where it rains the most.