Climatologist: Homes in danger areas need to be moved to safer ground

Photo: CTK

Over the last decade, floods of varying intensity have hit the country almost every year, leading to the destruction of property and in the worst case loss of life. A little earlier I discussed possible reasons for the increase in flood frequency with respected geologist and climatologist Václav Cílek, asking him which factors contributed to the rise in flooding.

Václav Cílek
“It’s quite difficult to say: some will argue that it is the impact of global warming and the Greenhouse Effect because we really are living through one of the warmest periods of the last 1,000 years. But be that as it may, it seems that solar activity is still the most powerful element in the climate system. I personally believe most in the sun’s influence especially on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans: in recent years so-called Atlantic and Pacific multidecadal oscillation were recognised. Basically, during these years you have slightly different wind regimes, which could be a reason the wind carries water evaporated in the Mediterranean to Central Europe more than ever before.”

Is it true that in some ways our recent ancestors in Europe were better prepared for floods, by building villages on higher ground or intervening in the landscape?

Photo: CTK
“I would say this: during the 20th century we saw a really marked episode of a low number of different floods, meaning that the frequency of floods which came before, in the 19th century, were forgotten. In the meantime, because of urban sprawl and all kinds of construction, the flood plain simply became considered ‘a safe place’ to build new houses. Over the last 50 years a large number of buildings were constructed in these areas. And if you watch the scenes on TV or visit the areas where the floods hit, you will notice that many of the buildings that were hit or destroyed are newer buildings.”

Is it possible to make changes in the landscape today that would help minimise the devastation from floods we saw at the weekend?

Photo: CTK
“It’s always possible. If you take the situation in England in the 17th and 18th centuries, many villages were removed from the seashore. But somehow, the Czech government must take measures. Just imagine you have a home on the flood plain that is destroyed by floods: you have barely enough money for repairs and you don’t have the money to buy a new house elsewhere. There are certain zones where the government or local municipalities need to take steps to remove people to better areas away from danger. But I don’t see it happening and I am not confidant that it will. If you are someone who has already survived a big flood, there is a relatively high chance you’ll be hit again within ten or twenty years.”