Extreme Temperature Diary- Saturday September 30th, 2023/Main Topic: Attributing Libyan Flooding to Climate Change

The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme, or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😉

Main Topic: Attributing Libyan Flooding to Climate Change

Dear Diary. Climate change attribution scientists have had their hands full during 2023. In the United States alone there have been 24-billion-dollar weather disasters that could be tied to aspects of climate change, the latest being horrific flooding that occurred in New York yesterday (probably once New York insurance claims are added up):

23 ‘billion-dollar’ natural disasters have hit the US in 2023 – The Washington Post

Overseas one of the easiest events for scientists to attribute climate change to was recent Libyan flooding from Medicane Daniel. Here is a good summary of what scientists looked at in their determination from Desdemona Despair:

Horrific Libya flooding made up to 50 times more likely by planet-warming pollution, scientists find – “Through these events we are already seeing how climate change and human factors can combine to create compounding and cascading impacts” – Desdemona Despair

Horrific Libya flooding made up to 50 times more likely by planet-warming pollution, scientists find – “Through these events we are already seeing how climate change and human factors can combine to create

September 30, 2023

Heavy rainfall caused catastrophic flooding in Derna, northeastern Libya, on 11 September 2023. Photo: AFP / Getty Images

By Laura Paddison
19 September 2023

(CNN) – The deadly rainfall which caused catastrophic flooding and destruction in Libya, as well as other parts of the Mediterranean, this month was made much more likely and worse by the human-caused climate crisis, in addition to other human factors, according to a new scientific analysis [Interplay of climate change-exacerbated rainfall, exposure and vulnerability led to widespread impacts in the Mediterranean region –Des].

The World Weather Attribution initiative – a team of scientists that analyze the role of climate change in the aftermath of extreme weather events – found planet-warming pollution made the deadly rainfall in Libya up to 50 times more likely to occur and 50% worse. They also found the extreme rainfall that hit Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria was made up to 10 times more likely.

Destruction from the rainfall was worsened by a tangle of other factors, including inadequate infrastructure and building in flood-prone areas, according to the analysis published Tuesday.

A man carries a girl and a dog in the flooded village of Palamas near the city of Karditsa, central Greece, on 8 September 2023. Photo: Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty Images

Extreme rainfall has swept across large parts of the Mediterranean region since the start of the month.

On 3 September 2023, Spain saw huge amounts of rain over the course of just a few hours, leading to floods which killed at least six people. Then Storm Daniel formed, causing severe flooding over four days in Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria.

At least 17 people died in Greece and large stretches of farmland in the central part of the country were left under water, causing damage experts say could take years to recover from. Storm Daniel also caused at least seven deaths in Turkey and four in Bulgaria.

By far the most catastrophic impacts, however, were in Libya.

Gaining energy from the unusually warm waters of the Mediterranean, Storm Daniel dumped record amounts of rainfall in parts of the country’s northeast, leading to the collapse of two dams and resulting in a 7-meter (23-foot) wave of water slamming into the city of Derna, sweeping people and buildings into the sea.

Official estimates suggest around 4,000 people were killed, while more than 10,000 remain missing.

Aerial view of destroyed houses in the city of Derna on 16 September 2023, after a powerful storm and heavy rainfall hit Libya. Photo: Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

To understand the impact of climate change on the likelihood and intensity of this heavy rainfall, WWA scientists analyzed climate data as well as climate models, which allow them to compare today’s climate – around 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels – to a world without climate change.

They found in Libya, not only did climate change make the extreme rainfall up to 50 times more likely, it also made it up to 50% more intense.

An event as severe as the one the country experienced is unusual even in today’s warmer climate, the report found, and can be expected around once in every 600 years.

For Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria, climate change made the rainfall up to 10 times more likely and up to 40% heavier, the analysis found.

The kind of extreme rainfall this region experienced is likely to happen around once every 10 years, according to the report. Although for central Greece, which bore the brunt of the destruction between the three countries, it is only expected to happen around once in every 80 to 250 years.

Aerial view of a collapsed bridge near the Pinios River Delta on the coast of Larissa, Greece, ten days after Storm Daniel, on 14 September 2023. Photo: Konstantinos Tsakalidis / SOOC / AFP / Getty Images

The WWA scientists acknowledged that there remain uncertainties with the findings. It is not possible to definitively rule out the possibility the climate crisis had no impact on the floods, the report authors said. But, they added, there are “multiple reasons we can be confident that climate change did make the events more likely.”

Scientific research has long linked climate change to more intense rainfall. Studies have found that for every 1 degree Celsius of warming, the air can hold around 7% more moisture.

What united many of the places the analysis focused on was the collision of the climate crisis and high levels of vulnerability, the report found. In central Greece, many communities live in flood-prone areas. In Libya, a lethal cocktail of aging, poorly-maintained infrastructure, a lack of warnings and deep political fractures turned a crisis into a humanitarian catastrophe.

“Through these events we are already seeing how climate change and human factors can combine to create compounding and cascading impacts,” Maja Vahlberg, of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and a report author, said on a call with reporters.

A view of devastation in disaster zones after the floods caused by the Storm Daniel ravaged the region in Derna, Libya on Tuesday, 12 September 2023. Photo: Abdullah Mohammed Bonja / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Steps can be taken to mitigate the risk, according to the report, including better early warning systems and evacuation plans.

“Reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience to all types of extreme weather is paramount for saving lives,” Friederike Otto, senior lecturer in climate science at Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, at Imperial College London, said in a statement.

Karsten Haustein, a climate researcher at Leipzig University in Germany who was not involved in the study, said the findings show how rare these extreme rainfall events would have been in a world without climate change.

It’s “a remarkable result,” he told CNN.

Jasper Knight, a geoscientist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, also not involved in the study, said that the results shine a light on how climate change is affecting extreme events in the Mediterranean, a region which tends not to receive much attention.

But, he told CNN, “we also need more in-depth analysis based on longer and more accurate records.”

Horrific Libya flooding made up to 50 times more likely by planet-warming pollution, scientists find

Here are some other “ET’s” recorded from around the planet the last couple of days, their consequences, and some extreme temperature outlooks, as well as any extreme precipitation reports:

Here is More Climate and Weather News from Saturday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

Today’s News on Sustainable, Traditional Polluting Energy from Fossil Fuel, and the Green Revolution:

More from the Weather Department:


More on the Environment:

More on Other Science and the Beauty of Earth and this Universe:

If you like these posts and my work on record temperature ratios, please contribute via my PayPal widget on this site. Thanks in advance for any support. 

Guy Walton… “The Climate Guy”

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