Climate researcher says heavy rains leading to floods will become increasingly frequent in the region should ocean temperatures continue to rise

Alexandra Lukash|. 09.10.23 

Climate change continues to impact the Earth as the past summer was confirmed as the hottest one on record. The consequences of the climate crisis have been very evident in recent days with massive flooding in Greece, Spain and other European countries including Turkey and Bulgaria, where heavy rains followed an exceptionally hot summer.

In an interview with Ynet, climate researcher Dr. Baruch Ziv of the Open University of Israel talked about the results of global warming we’re experiencing now. According to him, there’s a link between the rise of the Earth’s temperatures and natural disasters. “The Mediterranean Sea is warming up,” he said. “A warmer sea releases more steam, and when the steam turns to rain, the amount is much greater.”

סופה דניאל יוון בחבל מגנסיה
Flash floods in Greece after heavy rain

“Despite predictions of heavy rains, some people in Greece were initially skeptical of a downpour before they began,” Dr. Ziv noted, “There’s always room for doubt, but in my opinion, you should be as prepared as possible. The problem is you can’t prepare for a situation where roads wash away and bridges collapse.”

Dr. Ziv added that this is a precursor to other natural disasters which will happen due to global warming. “This may also happen in Israel in the winter,” he said. “There may be a need to create emergency guidelines in affected countries, telling people not to leave their houses, and stay away from underground parking lots. Such guidelines could help in preventing losses of life and damages.”

He added that as the Mediterranean Sea is getting warmer, a similar event could happen in Israel. “Firstly, the Mediterranean Sea was warmer this year than in recent years, and there’s an increased potential for flooding.”

סופה ספרד באזור טולדו
Floods in Spain
(Photo: Isabel Infantes/Reuters)

“Secondly, according to European and American models, there’s an increased chance of rains in the upcoming autumn. During the autumn, the sea still retains much of the heat it accumulated during the summer,” he added.

“So, the combination of heavy rain and warm sea could lead to floods. This is an opportunity to tell everyone involved to prepare, be careful, and warn the public if necessary. We shouldn’t underestimate the forecasts.”

Dr. Ziv noted that warning the public prior to floods or natural disasters was extremely important. “I think our weather models are as good as the Greek models. Greece is a country with very advanced forecasting, and their prediction was accurate. If the forecast in Israel predicts heavy rains, we should issue serious warnings and keep them in effect or cancel them as the event unfolds.”