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A father and son walk through their flooded street, in the town of Brommelen, Netherlands, Saturday, July 17, 2021.

Scientists warn the catastrophic floods that devastated western Europe last week are a glimpse into the future for the region, as climate change fuels more intense, slower-moving storm systems that can hold vast amounts of precipitation. 

According to a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, similar slow-moving, low-pressure storms could become 14 times more frequent in Europe over the next century. To date, such weather patterns have been relatively uncommon in the region, but researchers, using detailed climate model simulations, found that storms in the coming decades will have higher peak intensities, longer durations, and will occur more frequently. Slower-moving storms formed in warmer atmospheric temperatures also means more water accumulation — for every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit of warming, the atmosphere can hold 7 percent more moisture — increasing the risk of flash flooding. 

“This study suggests that changes to extreme storms will be significant and cause an increase in the frequency of devastating flooding across Europe,” Hayley Fowler, co-author of the study and a hydroclimatologist at Newcastle Uni... Read more

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