A LEADING climatologist from the University of Alicante has blamed a ‘warmer Mediterranean Sea’ for the killer floods that devastated the Costa Blanca last week.
Jorge Olcina, responsible for the Climatology Laboratory at the University of Alicante, said despite four other major Vega Baja floods since 1946 this year’s was ‘a beast’.
The Professor of Regional Geographic Analysis explained that the Mediterranean Sea is warmer than it was just 30 years ago – now reaching ‘tropical levels’ of 27º-28º C.
Clouds are therefore larger and loaded with more water and energy resulting in ‘rains with increased intensity’, according to Olcina
The gota fría phenomena that caused catastrophic flooding last week are now more frequent because the Atlantic ‘jet-stream’ that normally regulates our climate has been compromised by the melting of the Arctic polar ice caps – a consequence of global warming.
Olcina said: “When the last great flood of November 1987 occurred and a flood defense plan was launched, we were assured that it would never happen again … but the Segura continues to overflow.
“I feel cheated.”
He went on to blame the ‘development’ of rural areas, which exacerbate flooding as water cannot sink into the ground.
Additionally, he cited poor maintenance as a reason for flooding.
“There is more abandonment of river areas and less removal of unwanted vegetation,” he said.
As for the future, Olcina proposed a number of solutions :
- Reroute the Rio Segura, especially in Orihuela and Rojales.
- Install large capacity collectors, rain tanks and flood parks in cities.
- ‘Educate the population’ for situations of risk and emergency.
- Implement personal alert systems through mobile technology.
- Promote risk management with realistic flood maps.
The professor concluded with a message for Spanish authorities: “In a few years, we may return to report a new disaster, possibly worse than this.
“So you have to get to work”