Europe in distress

European Climatic Extremes: Fire-Furies, Floods and other Weird Phenomena

Human indulgence

Not that furies of flood or fire were not causing problems in the years, decades and centuries earlier; but the alarming rate at which it is taking place in the recent years have been the cause of immense worries. These furies of Fires and Floods are worrying esp so because it can be explained by its relations to the changes taking place in our habitat, planet Earth. Not many people are convinced that the international agencies are in full knowledge of the changes taking place on the planet, but whatever their understanding may be, surely they aren’t voicing all concerns. Among these changes, there are some visible and many invisible reasons too. Not many are convinced that the scientists & climate activists are eloquent of all changes for whatever reasons, incl avoiding annoying the powerful blocks of nations. The best example is that Climate Change groups remained mum to the adverse effects of huge quantities of petroleum products produced by the powerful blocks of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the OPEC, and burnt by those consuming it.It was as late as 2023 Glasgow climate conference when the international agencies could express their concerns of ‘Fossil Fuels’ causing huge damages to the climate. It is felt that there could be many other factors too destroying our planet which the world is hesitant to name, trying to avoid angering some. Some such issues could be found in some articles (read “Climate Change: Some Divergent Views”, Preliminary data from a subset of greenhouse gas observational sites for 2019 had indicated that CO2 global concentrations could reach or even exceed 410 ppm by the end of the year and it did. It fits well in predicting the increasing greenhouse gasses in the world as worldwide production and sales of combustion engine vehicles are adding up to almost 95-97 million every year.

Tell-Tale Signs

Environmental rise in temperature, shrinking of glaciers & ice cover, widely spreading wild fires, unprecedented rains, cloudbursts and floods, extremes of temperatures, rise in the sea levels, submersion of some of the shallow islands, increasing acidity of Seawater, reversal of oceanic currents are some of the few tell-tale signs of the recent climatic changes in the last 2 decades. May 2014 to 2019 rise of the global mean sea-level has increased to 5 mm / year compared with 4 mm / year in the 2007-2016 ten-year period. This is substantially faster than the average rate of 3.2 mm/year rise since 1993. Seawater rise in acidity is more by the rainwater bringing the increasing CO2 from the higher altitudes of the Troposphere, in addition to the known mechanism of standard solubility of the gas to the surface/oceanic water. While both mechanisms worsen the quality of the seawater making marine lives vulnerable, the former does spare humans and other terrestrial animals with the serious consequences of the increasing pollution and greenhouse gas effects. Other extremes of climatic effects include heatwaves, tropical cyclones and hurricanes jeopardizing humans lives, livelihood and habitats.

In recent times both extremes of temperatures are being experienced over both lower as well as the higher latitudes of Europe and the Arctic/Antarctic. Global warming at one hand has been burning the precious vegetation in the hills & plains in the uncontrolled forest fires and melting of the glaciers. In a study, the amount of ice lost annually from the Antarctic ice sheet has increased at least six-folds, from 40 Gt per year in 1979-1990 to 252 Gt per year in 2009-2017. Similar are the experience in the Arctic as well where ice cover is increasingly vanishing.

There are two additional effects. Firstly, the water vapour carrying capacity of the hotter atmosphere is increased exponentially resulting in heavier rains to cause devastating floods; and secondly, the patterns of air streams are altered that can reverse the climatic experience of a territorial zone. This often results in occasional weird experiences of unexpected extremely hot or cold days in distant areas unaffected hitherto. Unanticipated localised heat/cold waves and unprecedented snowfalls in such regions are its examples. Greenhouse effects in the Troposphere are often reversible due to convective climatic effects but those beyond Tropopause are either irreversible or at least long-lasting.

Problems of Europe

Recent European Temp mapping

Europe has been showing very strange weather phenomena in the last few years. Unprecedented temperatures in the vicinities of high 30s deg C have been observed and studies for extreme variations have shown possibilities of such occurrences in the coming years, and at a greater frequency too ( Other extreme phenomena include heatwaves, severe drought, ignition & spread of forest fires, lowering of the underground water tables, disappearance of sensitive flora & fauna, heavy rains & cloudbursts leading to severe flooding and the likes of.

The The Stratosphere over Europe and American continents in the higher latitudes may have suffered this effect during the proliferated aviation & Space activities and are facing the consequences more than other regions. Frequent uncontrolled wildfires often added/initiated by human indulgence could be making them worse and are the burning examples. Uncontrolled wildfires of recent years are shown in the table below. Clearly, the extent of burnt areas in recent years is worrisome.

Recent forest fires

In Aug 2023 a fire that started in Maui island of Hawaii in the USA burnt the entire inhabitation of the island including some ~3500 dwellings. The fire engulfed the township in such a way that nothing could be saved incl large numbers of people who couldn’t flee in time. This must serve as a warning bell to the entire world. Wild and forest fires are causing immense devastations around the globe and the massive amount of CO2 as well as heat generated should raise concerns esp when the former cannot enter the regeneration cycle owing to increasing deforestation; and the latter cannot be dissipated owing to increasing greenhouse gasses in Stratosphere and upper atmosphere, where the reversal of temperature with altitudes prevent convection currents. Military aviation and large scale Space activities worsen them further. A closer look at the recent volcanos spewing the gasses & particulates to much greater heights confirms it. These heights range beyond Tropopause to as high as 30-59 Km as seen in the table below. It may apparently turn out to be one of the leading reasons for the exaggerated greenhouse effects shown below where VEI mentioned in the table refers to the Volcanic Explosivity Index.

Volcanos spewing greenhouse gasses & particulates in Stratosphere

It must be remembered that every molecule of greenhouse gas and particulates emitted by aircrafts/rockets/ICBMs/Volcanos in the Stratosphere and beyond, are unable to enter the convection current within Troposphere and remain suspended for long time, thus continue warming the planet for long. These gasses have been increasing exponentially in recent years owing to increasing aviation and space activities esp in Europe, America and China. Some of the volcanos as mentioned above further accentuate it. In the higher latitudes of Europe, even commercial aircrafts often breach the Tropopause to load the Troposphere with exhaust gasses. None should be surprised if the current heat waves and other consequences in Europe & USA are found to have links.

Unprecedented rains and cloudbursts are another new extreme phenomenon repeatedly being observed in recent years. The warmer environmental temperatures caused more evaporation/vaporization of the surface water/moisture. Further, a warmer atmosphere can hold higher mass and volume of the water vapors. Actually, water vapour in an atmosphere is directly proportional to its absolute temp (in deg K). Thus if the Env temperature rises, so does the content of the water vapour in the atmosphere especially over and around the oceanic zones. There are various formulae to calculate its amounts. When cooled, condensation causes a much greater mass of rainfall, often in the form of cloudbursts. Heavy rainfalls and cloudburst are frequently observed phenomena in recent years.

Phenomenon of Cloudburst

The quantum of the rainfall may be only few centimeters but that takes place within a short span of time. The world drainage system designed to handle a given volumes of rain water in a unit time of the yesteryears can no longer handle such large mass and invariably lead to choking and flooding. These phenomena are further complicated by deforestation, thus unable to stagger sub-soil percolation, leading to the massive flow of water in deforested plains/jungles and on mountains; causing devastating mudslides and flooding. These flooding are often so intense that it takes everything coming in its path….be it dwellings, cars, trees, bridges, dam walls etc etc. Although other factors may also be involved, extensive flooding due to heavy rains has become a common sight the world over. The warmer Tropospheric atmospheric blanket that is also responsible for weather phenomena, extends to almost 17 Km above the equator as compared to around 10-12 Km over greater latitudes. Expectantly, of late, massive rainfalls in the latitudes of around 40 deg N or S have become a rule involving several countries.

Rainfall in higher latitudes

Any Hope of Corrective Measures?

Experts have been warning for long, of the human indulgence leading to environmental destruction the world over. The United Nations has been crying of the effects of Climate Change in a tone that many believe, is fine-tuned by the very ones who have or are destroying it. Many on social media term their efforts as ‘Climate Scam’ as they are dealing only with a narrow vision. The major offenders of the environment are getting away thanks to the biased approach of the UN and UNHRC (read “Climate Change: Some Divergent Views”, The main culprits are Fossil Fuel, Deforestation, Uncontrolled Wildfires, increasing Aviation and Space activities loading the Stratosphere and beyond with greenhouse gasses and particulates are only some to mention. The entire world takes it for granted that neither the OPEC is going to stop/reduce production nor larger nations are going to stop its burning. It is a good thing that renewable energy is finding increasing usage but that is hardly 5% of the total as of now. China and Australia are the major users of Coal causing grave pollution and greenhouse gas effects and India too has its share but just around 5%. Major forest fires have been worrisome in recent years that nations have been unable to control effectively. The recent Pandemic and some corrective initiatives did lower the greenhouse gas effects in the last 2-3 yrs but it is more of symbolic than effective.

Concluding Words

The cries of Climate Changes are becoming louder in recent years more so in the higher latitudes of Europe. Greenhouse gas loading has been increasing the environmental temperature with all-round changes including heatwaves, severe drought, ignition and spread of wildfires, lowering of the underground water tables, disappearance of sensitive flora & fauna, heavy rains & cloudbursts leading to severe flooding. These are also causing a rise in the sea level, threatening the survival of shallow islands. Increasing acidity of Seawater is threatening marine lives and changes in the oceanic current endangering the arctic glaciers. Humanity on planet Earth may be at the thresholds of irreversible environmental changes of which climate could only be a small part (read “Climate Change only Part-Concern of a Larger Enigma”, It is well known that the so-called developed nations have already ruined our planet enough and must be prevented from indulging any further.

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