Germany just saw the wettest twelve months on record

Published On: July 4, 2024

According to the German weather service, the period from July 2023 to June 2024 has seen the wettest twelve months on record, with more precipitation than ever before since measurements began.

Despite this, climate researchers had predicted even more rainfall, highlighting the complex and unpredictable nature of weather patterns. According to the German Weather Service (DWD), the period from July 2023 to June 2024 has seen the wettest 12-month stretch in Germany’s recorded history, dating back to 1881.

The DWD evaluated data from nationwide measuring stations to make this assessment, marking a notable anomaly in the country’s weather patterns. The record-breaking 12-month period was marked by a steady and persistent increase in rainfall, rather than a single exceptional month.

According to Frank Kaspar, head of hydrometeorology at the DWD, the average rainfall amount per square meter over this period was around 1,070 liters, significantly higher than the long-term average of 789 liters per square meter per year for the reference period of 1961-1990.

Increases in precipitation

The DWD’s data shows that annual precipitation amounts have been below average for most of the last ten years, but based on the entire data since 1881 you see that the dry and wet periods alternate, with a slight increase in precipitations.

Precipitation is characterized by high variability both from year to year and over longer periods, explains Kasper. The drought of recent years was now followed by a twelve-month very wet phase, which further reduced the precipitation deficit from month to month.

More rain due to warmer oceans

Climate researchers have linked the record temperatures observed in the North Atlantic over the last year with increased rainfall in Europe. Temperature fluctuations in the ocean could encourage heavy rainfall in addition to heat waves and droughts.

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The additional water in the air then comes back down, especially during heavy rainfall, as researchers have shown. “High temperatures on the sea surface release additional moisture into the atmosphere,” explained Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the European climate program Copernicus.

In recent months, there have been repeated floods in Central Europe, for example in northern Germany in winter, in early summer in Saarland and on the edge of the Alps in Germany. Overall, Europe received around seven percent more precipitation than average.

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A third of European rivers exceeded the “high” flood mark in 2023. Record or near-record flood levels were observed in major river basins, including the Loire, Rhine and Danube, following a series of storms between October and December.

Related Germany: Lightning, heavy rain and flooded roads

This article is based on an article from the Tagesspiegel.
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