Do the floods in Libya result from climate change?

Libya is in a dire state following the floods caused by Storm Daniel, which ravaged the Eastern region of the country due to the heavy overflow resulting from the breach of two dams in the coastal city of Derna.

On the night of September 11th, 2023, the collapse of two dams resulted in fatal flooding. The unleashed waters swept through residential neighborhoods on both sides of the Wadi Derna seasonal river.

Wadi Derna is a seasonal river that flows from the highlands to the south normally intersects the city of Derna and is protected from flooding by dams. Floods in Libya ravaged the cities of Derna, al Bayda after a 400 mm rainfall on the Mediterranean coast triggered Storm Daniel which has placed a death toll above 5,200 with up to 8,000 injured and about 10,000 missing persons

Storm Daniel made landfall in Libya over the weekend barely a week after hitting parts of Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey where up to 27 casualties were noted by authorities. The calamity has led to curfews being implemented in the flood-affected cities, and air and sea ports were shut down as a result.

On a visit to the worst-affected city, Derna, on Monday, Othman Abduljalil, the health minister for the eastern parliament-backed government of Libya, referred to some areas as “ghost towns.”

Libya Floods
Damages caused by Libya Floods… Source; AFP/Getty Images

Some of the other areas affected by the floods included the town of Bayda, where about 50 people were reported dead, as well as the towns of Shahatt, Marj, and Susa 47 miles west of Derna.

Scientists have revealed a probable increase in such devastating floods attributed to the world heating up continuously. According to scientists, Oceans have so far absorbed more than 90% of the excess heat from anthropogenic acts of humans. Evidenced by clips from Greece that went viral showing cars being swept into the sea and sinkholes opening in roads.

Lizzie Kendon, a climate science professor at the University of Bristol, said Storm Daniel is illustrative of the type of devastating flood event to be expected increasingly in the future.

This weather system is comparable to typhoons in the Pacific or hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic. The heavy downpour has also been cited as a product of a powerful low-pressure system that last week caused devastating floods in Greece and traveled into the Mediterranean.

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