Europe’s catastrophic flooding was forecast well in advance – what went so wrong?

Siberia Faces ‘Airpocalypse’ as Unprecedented Wildfires Engulf Region in Toxic Smoke

A monitoring service warned Wednesday that the Siberian city of Yakutsk is experiencing an “airpocalypse” as devastating wildfires engulf the typically frigid—but, thanks to the climate crisis, increasingly warm—region in toxic smoke.

Following record-breaking heat and drought in northeastern Russia, hundreds of intense wildfires are now burning through taiga forests in Siberia.

Image: NASA Earth Observatory

Throughout late Wednesday afternoon and early evening local time, according to Plume Labs, air quality in Yakutsk ranged from “dire” to “extreme” to “airpocalypse,” categories that indicate dangerous levels of pollutants in the atmosphere. Earlier this week, Yakutsk was forced to suspend flights at its airport due to poor visibility.

“High levels of particulate matter and possibly also chemicals including ozone, benzene, and hydrogen cyanide are thought likely to make this one of the world’s worst ever air pollution events,” The Guardian reported, referring to the fires that have scorched 3.7 million acres of land in northeastern Siberia in recent days…

Europe’s catastrophic flooding was forecast well in advance – what went so wrong?

Almost 200 people dead and many others still missing. Billions of euros’ worth of damage. Communities devastated. Thousands of homes destroyed and their occupants traumatised.

It is like claiming that the maiden voyage of the Titanic was a success because 99% of its engineering worked perfectly throughout.

Hannah Cloke, Professor of Hydrology, University of Reading

I am a flood forecaster who helped to set up the forecasting system that was used to predict the recent floods in Germany and surrounding countries. I saw days in advance that they were coming. I read reports of rainfall and river levels rising. And then I watched with growing horror as the death toll surged.

The European Flood Awareness System (EFAS), which I helped to set up, is part of the EU’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service. It provides early information on flooding to national and local authorities across Europe. I work closely with people there in my role as an independent flood scientist at the University of Reading to improve and analyse EFAS data. I don’t work in the team that issues early flood information to authorities, but looking at the data with colleagues, I could see early on just how serious the floods looked…

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