Heat, drought, floods – the weather can still be so extreme – knowledge


Man-made global warming means that extreme weather phenomena are becoming much more frequent and intense. This is confirmed by the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But how exactly are these heat waves and floods related to global warming?

Flooded towns, storm-ravaged houses or dust-dry meadows are now on the news every day. But has there always been such extreme weather to this extent, or has climate change led to an increase? Climate change is not the only factor leading to extreme weather. Nevertheless, extreme weather events are becoming much more frequent and intense due to climate change. The latest IPCC report clearly shows this.

The report shows that heat waves that used to occur in a country every 50 years will occur 39 times over the same period if the global temperature rises by four degrees Celsius. In addition, extreme rainfall will increase by seven percent for every degree Celsius of warming. But how is global warming related to extreme weather?

When the air gets warmer

When the earth gets warmer, the air gets warmer too. And warmer air holds more moisture. This leads to more intense rain – i.e. heavy rain. The more the earth heats up, the more severe and frequent this becomes.

This not only increases the amount of heavy rain – more rain also means more flooding, because all the water can no longer seep away. What’s more, if the air now absorbs more moisture, this leads to more rain in one place, but the moisture is missing in the other place. The result is drought.

If you think of the past storms and floods, you rightly ask yourself: How extreme can these weather situations get? “A lot more intense,” says ETH professor and climate scientist Sonia Seneviratne. She is co-author of the chapter on climate extremes in the international world climate report and talks to SRF CO2ntrol host Jara Helmi about the forecasts.

If we did nothing to stop global warming, it would rise to two degrees by 2050. “Then we would be in a bad situation,” says Sonia Seneviratne. In order to prevent this, according to Seneviratne, we would have to reduce emissions by five to seven percent every year from now on. This would mean that the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas or coal would have to be significantly reduced and completely eliminated in the long term.

50 degrees Celsius in Lucerne in 2050? How does this forecast affect you? Let us know in the comments.

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