Publication Date June 2, 2016

Floods in France and Germany linked to climate change

The feet of the Zouave statue on the Pont de l'Alma are covered by the rising waters from the Seine River after days of rainy weather in Paris, France, June 2, 2016 as the Zouave statue is considered an indicator of the level of the Seine. Photo: Pascal Rossignol, Reuters

The rain and floods are due "to climate, and we have to get used to it, but also to us humans, settling into areas that we shouldn't live," climate risk expert Jeroen Aerts told RFI...

French state forecaster Météo France has described the situation as "exceptional and worse than the floods of 1910", when even central Paris was flooded. 

At the time, the water reached its maximum height at 8.62 metres at the Austerlitz bridge, some six metres above its normal level. Central Paris remained under water for 10 days, causing heavy damage to buildings and monuments....

"It’s not at all the same situation - in 1910 there had been a long build-up with a very wet autumn starting in September 1909," explains Simon Carrage a flood risk specialist at the management and planning institute of the Île-de-France region. "There had been four months of regular rainfall that saturated the soils. The entire Seine watershed overflowed. Now we’re only seeing small floods, with dramatic situations locally, but it doesn’t impact the entire Seine."

Earlier this week, Météo France noted that May 2016 had been the rainiest month since 1886.

"These events, even though they are there, can occur at any given time," says Laurens Bouwer, an expert in climate change impacts at Deltares. "But they fit the pattern that we expect with global warming where we see more intense rainfall events. With increasing temperatures, we see higher temperatures and more rainfall"