Weather extremes in 2022: What meteorologists are already worrying about

  • Weather extremes are increasing – one Consequences of climate change
  • What worries do meteorologists have?
  • What do we have to adjust to?
  • CO2, water levels and the Gulf Stream
  • What chances do we still have to change something?

Floods, forest fires, storms – also in Germany Increasingly extreme weather conditions lead to major damage. These phenomena have been proven, though not all of that Consequence of general climate change, which is why we will have to be prepared to be regularly exposed to dangerous weather events in the future.

Weather extremes are increasing

Of the Flood disaster in mid-July 2021 in parts of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland Palatinate the population living there has not yet been able to really recover. The damage caused by the masses of water and destroyed livelihoods in the process is too great and lasting. Over 180 people lost their lives. Also the hottest summer in Germany since weather records began 1881 is not that far back. In 2019, peak values ​​of 41.2 degrees were measured in August. The summer of 2019 was also one of the hottest summers (2003, 2018, 2019) in measurement history. the German weather service (DWD) recently determined that it was in Germany in the past year 2021 warmer, more humid and more sunny was than the long-term mean (1961-1990). Also not completely forgotten is Kyrill (2007), one of the most expensive storms in insurance history.

What meteorologists fear

In his Fact paper on extreme weather in Germany the DWD assumes “that global warming […] will continue in the coming decades and thus worsen.“From a scientific point of view, the experts agree that extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain or”Long-lasting phases with maximum daily temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius and above […] the consequence of the rapid warming of the climate system” are.

However, not only in this country and in Europe, but worldwide, comparable and sometimes even worse weather extremes can be observed more and more frequently and regularly. Next rain-related flash floods and floods, heat waves and droughts, also belong Hurricanes, storms, hurricanes and tornadoes to devastating weather events. It should be noted at this point that meteorologists do not generally attribute all occurring weather extremes to climate change and therefore carry out differentiated analyzes.

We have to adjust to that

So if weather extremes result in general climate change, we will continue to encounter these phenomena more and more. Apart from experiencing the immediate weather events, this means, among other things:

  • One increasing risk of damagewhat besides the potential annihilation of livelihoods too Effects on the insurance industry as well as its policies and tariffs will bring with it.
  • the Loss of harvests will adversely affect the availability and pricing of basic and luxury foods (e.g. wine, coffee, tea, exotic fruits and vegetables).
  • Because we live in a primarily economically globalized world, the negative consequences will extend to international trade relations as well as to national and regional economies.
  • In general, the Conditions in the affected habitats change and in some areas even worsen dramatically. Especially when diseases spread as a result of poor hygiene after a disaster.

Quite a few people associate this with the ongoing climate change for our latitudes positive idea of ​​a pleasant Mediterranean climate. According to the motto “Then we have Mallorca on our own doorstep”. This contradicts this fantasy Climate researcher Professor Thomas Stocker decided. Rather, it assumes rising summer temperatures, increased amounts of rain and increasing wind speeds in autumn and spring storms. “In concrete terms, this means: more storms, floods, storm surges and heat waves.“That is why he also endorses the general demands that we have to significantly reduce global warming.”If it doesn’t work […] then we would experience a heat wave every two to three years instead of every 20 years. For Central Europe this means a completely different, even more changeable climate.

CO2, water levels and the Gulf Stream

Undisputed, because it is measurable, the earth’s atmosphere is increasingly warming due to the so-called Greenhouse effect. Here, CO2 in particular plays an important role, although it is initially a natural component of our earth’s atmosphere. It also works CO2 like a kind of protective shield for our earth. Because it prevents geothermal heat from escaping into space. Without greenhouse gases, which not only include CO2, the average temperature on our planet would be around 33 ° C lower, calculated by experts.

Both the since the beginning of industrialization increased burning of fossil materials such as crude oil or coal, as well as melting polar ice caps and the gases released as a result, as well as global deforestation, among other things, contribute to the fact that large amounts of greenhouse gases escape into our atmosphere. This increases the greenhouse effect and the earth’s climate is noticeably warmer. That alone does not lead to alone increased CO2 emissions. In addition, natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or the tsunami of March 11, 2011 in Japan, due to severe destruction, contribute to the release of many thousands of tons of climate-damaging substances. This results in a clearly verifiable increase in emissions with a negative impact on our climate.

As a result of global warming is also a Rise in sea level and sea temperature verifiable. A further rise in sea level would initially flood many smaller islands (e.g. the Maldives, Seychelles), but then also affect larger coastal regions. Last but not least, this would make strong Migrationsbewegungen triggered.

For Europe the Gulf Stream great importance. It transports the warm water from the Gulf of Mexico to Europe and is responsible for the fact that the temperatures here are more moderate than in other areas at a comparable latitude. If the glaciers continue to melt, the increasing amount of water reduces the salt content in the ocean. Since fresh water is lighter than salt water, the sinking of cold water off Greenland slows down as the salt content decreases. This, in turn, reduces the speed of the Gulf Stream’s circulation. Even if not all scientists agree on the effects that can actually be expected: One possible scenario would be that the expected average temperature in Europe could drop by 1 to 2 degrees. A circumstance that would certainly not be insignificant for flora and fauna in the long term.

What chances do we still have to change something?

You can think of the answers to the question of what we can do to counter the threatening consequences of climate change in three directions:

  1. What can I do personally?
  2. What can we as a society change collectively?
  3. How do we protect ourselves from the inevitable consequences?

Personally, you can, for example, your Behavior in the area of ​​consumption (ecological products, clothing, packaging) and nutrition (e.g. less meat, less exotic food) adjust. You can try to save energy and pay more attention to your mobility which means of transport you use how often and for what occasion. You can get involved in appropriate groups and thus Become a multiplier of a movement.

What begins on a small scale can also work on a large scale. In addition to a collective social awareness, it is ultimately important to act and implement the right ideas. The PS has to be on the road. The industry usually follows the demand habits of its consumers. Honestly, this is often the crux of the matter. As a society we are called upon to cope with structural change with innovative Shaping forms of renewable energy and tackle the fourth industrial revolution based on an existing high level of technology.

Even if we stopped all CO2 emissions tomorrow, we would still have to struggle with the consequences of our previous behavior. So it is inevitable to be concerned with how we ourselves protect against the consequences of extreme weather conditions be able. On the one hand, these can be technologically highly developed warning systems (tsunami), modified construction methods or protective systems (retention basins, side courses) that at least minimize the damage. On the other hand, one helps proactive action. Flood hazard maps and realistically developed emergency plans are certainly just the beginning. However, we don’t have much time left.

You can read here why less is more when shopping with a view to climate and consumption.

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