Understanding Extreme Weather in a Changing Climate

ClimaMeter is an experimental rapid framework for understanding extreme weather events in a changing climate based on looking at similar past weather situations. Find out more here and follow us on X

Climate change increased up to 10% the heavy rain that caused  massive floods in Southern Germany

From June 1st to June 3rd, two consecutive storms led to severe rainfall and flooding in Southern Germany, in the regions of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg, with more than 150 mm of rainfall in large areas of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg in 24 hours. This caused several deaths, thousands of evacuations, landslides, dam destructions and travel disruptions. To analyze the drivers of this extreme meteorological event, ClimaMeter conducted a rapid analysis using a methodology based on historical meteorological information from the last 40 years. The researchers compared how similar low depression systems were at the end of the 20th century (1979-2001) and how they are now, in recent decades (2002-2023), when the effect of climate change has become more evident. The analysis also evaluates the contribution of natural phenomena such as El Niño.

ClimaMeter found that depressions akin to those that hit Bavaria are now about 10% wetter than in the past. The analysis shows that climate change played a dominant role in fueling this heavy rainfall episode, while other natural phenomena such as El Niño did not contribute to the event.

Image:  South Germany Floods, source: MDR

Human-driven climate change exacerbated extreme temperatures in  India Heatwave  

From May 26th to May 29th, northern India and southern Pakistan experienced a severe heatwave, with New Delhi reaching a record temperature of 49.1°C. Over 37 cities recorded temperatures above 45°C, leading to heat-related illness warnings at least 56 casualties, and 25000 suspeted heat stroke cases. There were initial reports of a temperature recording of 53.2°C that were later adjusted due to a faulty sensor. Yet, the heatwave in northern India and southern Pakistan exhibited record-high temperature, ranging from 45.2°C to 49.1°C in different parts of New Delhi. Authorities warned against water wastage due to shortages and cut supplies in some areas, deploying 200 teams to enforce water conservation. New Delhi's power demand hit an all-time high as residents relied on air conditioning and fans to cope with the heat.

ClimaMeter found that heatwaves akin to those that hit northern India and southern Pakistan are now at least 1.5°C more intense. The analysis shows that climate change played an important role in fueling this heatwave, as the contribution of climate natural variability alone cannot explain the temperature increase.

Image: A man takes a shower under water pouring from a pipe along the Yamuna flood plains on a hot summer afternoon in New Delhi on May 29, 2024, amid ongoing heatwave. Arun Sankar/AFP via Getty Images

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