Study reveals Libya disaster made 50 times more likely due to climate change

Scientists stated on Tuesday that climate change has increased the likelihood of heavy rainfall, which in turn resulted in deadly floods in Libya, by up to 50 times.

The powerful storm that struck on September 10th caused the rupture of two dams, resulting in the flooding of Libya’s eastern city of Derna and the loss of thousands of lives. Residential complexes constructed along a typically arid riverbank collapsed as the swollen river eroded their foundations.

The disaster was influenced by several factors, including the construction of buildings in flood-prone areas, the inadequate condition of the dams, the prolonged armed conflict, and other local considerations.

However, climate change contributed to an increase of up to 50% in rainfall during that timeframe, as indicated by scientists affiliated with World Weather Attribution. This international research collaboration focuses on assessing the extent to which climate change contributes to particular weather occurrences.

The scientists cautioned that as climate change drives weather patterns to unprecedented extremes, it continues to be hazardous to construct residences in flood-prone areas or to employ subpar construction materials.

“The interaction of these factors, and the very heavy rain that was worsened by climate change, created the extreme destruction [in Libya]”, the scientists wrote in a statement.

They employed climate models and computer simulations to compare contemporary weather events with how they might have transpired if the climate had not already warmed by 1.2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial average temperature.

Rainfall can either intensify or become more irregular due to climate change, as a warmer atmosphere has the capacity to retain more water vapor, leading to the accumulation of additional moisture before it is released through cloud formation.

The research revealed that the exceptionally uncommon storm event generated 50% more rainfall than it would have in the absence of global warming. According to the scientists, in the present climate, such an event can be anticipated once every 300-600 years.

Simultaneously, climate change resulted in a rise of up to 40% in the volume of rainfall experienced in early September throughout the Mediterranean region. This led to devastating floods that claimed numerous lives in Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey.

“The Mediterranean is a hotspot of climate change-fueled hazards,” said Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, citing heatwaves and wildfires in the region over summer.

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