A wave that could drown the world: 2010 “wettest” year on record, or why a warmer world leads to more floods

While much of the dicussion on climate change is focussed on temperatures (and the deniers obsession with trying to prove temperature records wrong), 2010 has proven to be one of the wettest years on record:

US government figures for the global climate show that last year was the wettest on record, matching 2005 as the hottest year since record-keeping began in 1880.

The new figures confirm that 2010 will go down as one of the more remarkable years in the annals of climatology. It featured prodigious snowstorms that broke seasonal records in the United States and Europe; a record-shattering summer heat wave that scorched Russia; strong floods that drove people from their homes in places like Pakistan, Australia, California and Tennessee; a severe die-off of coral reefs; and a continuation in the global trend of a warming climate.

Two agencies, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reported that the global average surface temperature for 2010 had equalled the record set in 2005.

Those with a basic understanding of the science will fully appreciate that rising temperatures lead to more moisture in the atmosphere.

Indeed according to this 2007 study published in the US Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, this is just the case:

Data from the satellite-based Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) show that the total atmospheric moisture content over oceans has increased by 0.41 kg/m2 per decade since 1988. Results from current climate models indicate that water vapor increases of this magnitude cannot be explained by climate noise alone. In a formal detection and attribution analysis using the pooled results from 22 different climate models, the simulated “fingerprint” pattern of anthropogenically caused changes in water vapor is identifiable with high statistical confidence in the SSM/I data. Experiments in which forcing factors are varied individually suggest that this fingerprint “match” is primarily due to human-caused increases in greenhouse gases and not to solar forcing or recovery from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Our findings provide preliminary evidence of an emerging anthropogenic signal in the moisture content of earth’s atmosphere.

A grpah from this paper shows the growth in atmosphere moisture:

“Sceptics” can’t explain the multiple lines of evidence supporting the view our planet is warming.

And of course, what goes up must come down.

A warmer world will see more flooding

2010 proved to be a horrific year for flooding…

At least 16 dead in Queensland during the 2010-2011 floods:

Victorian floods of September 2010:

Sadly Victoria has been hit by a series of devestating floods again:


Of course there was the devestation in Pakistan. Over 20 million people were affected, 1500 died and large parts of the country went under water:

Of course there was also China, experiencing devestating floods and landslides as well. Damages from those floods are estimated to exceed $54 billion, over 350 were killed and 1 million homes destroyed:

The 2010 China floods began in early May 2010.[8][9][10] 392 people had died, and a further 232 people had been reported missing as of June 30, 2010,[11][12] including 57 people in a landslide in Guizhou. 53 of the deaths occurred from the flooding and landslides between May 31 and June 3,[13] and 266 deaths occurred between June 13 and June 29.[14] 424 people were killed by the end of June,[11] including 42 from the Guizhou landslide; 277 more were killed and 147 left missing in the first two weeks of July,[15][16][17] bringing the death toll as of August 5 to 1,072.[4][6] A landslide in early August in Gansu killed at least 1,471 people and left 294 missing. In total, the flooding and landslides killed at least 3,185 people in China by August 31.[1] More than 230 million people[1][18] in 28 provinces, municipalities and regions,[2][4][11] especially the southern and central provinces and regions of Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Chongqing Municipality, Gansu, Sichuan and Guizhou, and the northeastern province of Jilin have been affected, while at least 4.66 million people[19] have been evacuated because of the risk of flooding and landslides in the latter half of June.[7][20][21][22][23] By early August, over 12 million people had been evacuated,[2][4] and that number rose to 15.2 million by August 31.[1]

Millions lack drinking water. A total of 1.36 million houses have been destroyed[2][4] and more than 97,200 square kilometers (24 million acres) of crops had been innundated,[19] while 800,000 ha (2,000,000 acres) of farmland had been completely destroyed by the end of June.[24] Dozens of rivers remain in flood, including the Pearl River in Guangdong province,[23] which was impacted by severe drought during the spring as its outflow was severely reduced.[25] The total damages from the floods were roughly 83.8 billion yuan as of June 27, 2010,[19] and over 275 billion yuan (41 billion USD) by August 8.[2][4] By late August, 16.5 million hectares[1] of farmland have been affected by the flooding, while 2.09 million hectares have been completely destroyed.[2][11]

Of course the US experienced it’s own floods, with Tenessee being flooded in it’s biggest diaster “since the Civil War”:

Central Europe was also hit hard, Poland especially:

The floods caused the death of at least twenty-five people. Approximately 23,000 people were evacuated and the estimated economic cost was 2.5 billion euros.[1] Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk informed the Sejm that ongoing flooding was “the worst natural disaster in the nation’s history … without precedent in the past 160 years”.[2][2][3]

Two months worth of rain poured down over one twenty-four hour period.[4] In the Czech Republic, the heaviest rain for eight years was reported.[4] The floods forced the closure of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.[5] Museum staff relocated important artifacts to higher ground as floodwaters approached.[4] Kraków, a popular attraction with tourists, announced a state of emergency.[4] On 18 May, due to the high level reached by the Vistula river in Kraków the Dębnicki bridge, located in the center of the city, was closed. The Nowohucki bridge was also closed.[6]

Amidst all this Africa also experienced major flooding, ignored and forgotten by the world:

The 2010 Nigerien floods were floods across Niger which left over 111,000 people homeless. Niger was already suffering acute food shortages following prolonged drought in the Sahel region. As of 24 August 2010, at least 6 to 8 people had died. The Niger river was pushed to its highest levels in 80 years.[1] The floods subsequently spread along the River Niger in to Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Benin over the next few months. Later storms also brewed up in Morocco and northern Algeria.

Record rain falls.

Billions in damages and lost productivity.

Thousands killed.

Millions of lives disrupted.

No, it’s just a co-incidence.





16 thoughts on “A wave that could drown the world: 2010 “wettest” year on record, or why a warmer world leads to more floods

  1. […] A wave that could drown the world: 2010 “wettest” year on record, or why a warmer world leads to… […]

  2. Pete_Ridley says:

    Oh dear Mike, you do talk a load of nonsense. Severe flooding and severe droughts are not a new phenomenon and they are not climate change, they are weather events. We’ve had them al before and we’ll have them again.

    What is more to the point, there is absolutely no convincing evidence that such events have anything to do with our use of fossil fuels. Please try to understand what science is available instead of simply accepting and parroting the propaganda that politicians, environmentalists and the power-hungry throw at you. Just for once try thinking for yourself.

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

  3. fredorth says:

    I believe that this was an excellent post which provides an impressive summary of the flooding component.

  4. Sundance says:

    We’ve seen worse climate in the past.


    When did the dutch start building dikes and what was the CO2 level?

    The Dutch and their ancestors have been working to hold back and reclaim land from the North Sea for over 2000 years. Over 2000 years ago, the Frisians who first settled the Netherlands began to build terpen, the first dikes to hold back the water.

    In 1287 the terpen and dikes that held back the North Sea failed, and water flooded the country. A new bay, called Zuiderzee (South Sea) was created over former farmland. For the next few centuries, the Dutch worked to slowly push back the water of the Zuiderzee, building dikes and creating polders (the term used to described any piece of land reclaimed from water). Once dikes are built, canals and pumps are used to drain the land and to keep it dry. From the 1200s, windmills had been used to pump excess water off the fertile soil; today most of the windmills have been replaced with electricity- and diesel-driven pumps.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Yes… because all these disasters happened within the span of few months of each other?

      Look around mate – China, Pakistan, Australia, Poland, Brazil, West Africa.

      Record rainfalls and devastating floods happening in a very short time frame. Not over centuries – but over the span of a few weeks.

      No one said bad floods never happened, their increased frequency is the main concern.

      BTW, the Dutch are investing billions to protect themselves from rising sea levels due to climate change:

      “…The Dutch are doing more than putting their fingers in the dikes; the prospect of global warming and a melting Greenland has convinced the government in the Netherlands to spend $1.3 billion per year over the next century on massive infrastructure projects. The reason is simple, as most readers know: One-quarter of this venerable European country lies below sea level.”


      The Dutch are not foolish.

      Unlike the average climate denier, they’ve not got their heads in the sand.

  5. Sundance says:

    From the Met Office:

    Global flooding and La Niña
    14 January 2011 – In some parts of the world severe flooding is occurring, as very heavy rain and landslides affect regions of Australia, Brazil and much of Sri Lanka.

    Some speculation has surrounded the meteorological reasons for the severe weather, these include a near record La Niña event with colder than normal ocean waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

    For the Australian state of Queensland, there is strong evidence to suggest that La Niña is the main reason for the ongoing widespread flooding. The current floods are also the worst since 1974 – which coincided with the strongest La Niña on record.

    Further afield, the links with rainfall patterns and La Niña become more uncertain. In Sri Lanka, historical records show that there is no clear link between La Niña and heavy rain. However, the current La Niña extends further west than usual and this is associated with a westward shift in rainfall patterns in the region. Sri Lanka is on the very western edge of this rain.

    Meanwhile, the flooding and landslides in southern parts of Brazil are thought not to be directly associated with La Niña. These extreme conditions can be put down to the variable nature of our global weather patterns.


  6. Sundance says:

    Here’s another U.S. climate expert (denier to you lol) saying that La Nina and the NAO are the cause.

    The catastrophic weather events taking place across the globe – from Brazil’s and Australia’s flooding to the Eastern United States’ heavy snowfall – have two likely explanations.

    Tony Barnston, lead forecaster at Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, said two phenomena – La Niña and the North Atlantic Oscillation – are likely responsible for the patterns we’re seeing.

    Though La Niña is different every time, it can be simply defined as a drop in water temperature in the eastern and central tropical Pacific Ocean. This particular La Niña appeared in July, Barnston said, and will last through spring.


  7. adelady says:

    I took special note of costs. Queensland flood costs early estimates are $16 billion. The Dutch are spending $1.3 billion a year on adaptation. One flood costs the same as 12 years of adaptation expenditures.

    How much better for everyone to spend $16 billion on mitigation and preparation than on cleaning up floods and fires or going without crops, comfortable housing or other unproductive outlays.

  8. Pete_Ridley says:

    Dear Adelady, for once you and I appear to be in agreement. Instead of spending billions pretending to be able to control what nature decides to throw our way spend far less simply doing what humans have had to do since we started treading this wonderful earth – adapt.

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

  9. […] https://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/a-wave-that-could-drown-the-world-2010-wettest-ye… This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 12:43 am and is filed under Climate, Weather. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. […]

  10. plasma fernseher…

    […]A wave that could drown the world: 2010 “wettest” year on record, or why a warmer world leads to more floods « Watching the Deniers[…]…

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