Friday, January 12, 2018

Act now to protect millions from floods — study

When we think of climate catastrophes, flooding is pretty high on the list of nightmare scenarios. But it's not just rising sea levels that are threatening communities with inundation: New research shows that ever more of us are at risk from rivers bursting their banks.
As the global temperature rises, water evaporates into the air, humidity increases, clouds form — and what goes up must come down. It's among the laws of physics: Warmer air holds more moisture, meaning bigger clouds that can travel further, resulting in even more extreme storms.
Since the mid-1980s, climate scientists have recorded a 20 percent increase in record-breaking rainfall around the world — with devastating consequences.
In 2017, flooding across India, Bangladesh and Nepal affected 40 million people, and more than 1,200 died. In flooding in Sierra Leone, more than 1,100 people perished. As Peru recorded 10 times the normal level of rainfall, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and at least 70 killed.
To round out the inventory of flooding's impact for last year, lives were also lost to flooding in China, the Philippines, Italy, and Vietnam, among other locations.
And 2018 has carried the trend forward. This week, at least 17 people were killed as dramatic storms swept California. Roads looked like rivers and homes were destroyed.