Global warming is behind torrential downpours causing devastation worldwide, experts warn

Experts have told ITV News the warming of Earth means the atmosphere can hold more moisture, so when it does rain the downpours are heavier. ITV News' Asia Correspondent Debi Edward reports

Flooding has impacted a number of countries across the world in recent weeks, displacing thousands and proving fatal to others.

In Japan, the heaviest rains ever recorded have swept away homes and hillsides across the Fukuoka prefecture.

Flooding in this area killed an elderly couple after they became trapped in their house.

Torrential downpours, meanwhile, have caused major flooding in both the far north and south of China, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people.

The Indian government has ordered those living next to the Yamuna River, in New Delhi, to leave the area, as water levels continue to rise following record monsoon downpours in the country's capital.

Spain is also counting the cost of devastating rains there at the end of last week.

And in New York State roads have been submerged, following the worst rainfall in more than a decade.

Across the planet, in diverse and distant continents it is the same story of extreme weather, with the same explanation.

Gavin Schmidt, director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, explained to ITV News what is behind the recent spate of global flooding.

Flooding in Ratnagiri district, in the western Indian state of Maharashtra Credit: Indian Air Force/AP

"When we have warmer oceans pretty much everywhere, then what happens is it evaporates to fill the atmosphere," he said.

"And so we have more water vapor. And that means that when it rains, when we get that water vapor condensing into clouds and then rain, it can be more intense."

If the temperature of the Earth and oceans continue to rise it makes storms like these easier to form, and not only is it more likely to rain, but rain harder.

And in many of the countries that have experienced a deluge, there are also parts in drought and experiencing severe heat.

The first week of July was the warmest week on record so far, with a global average of above 17C.

Gavin Schmidt explains to ITV News what is behind the recent spate of global flooding

China's capital, Beijing, has been sweltering in temperatures consistently above average - it is not even the height of summer and several Chinese cities have broken records.

People are having to hose down their generators in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, where the power is cutting out in heat which has risen up to 45C.

For anyone planning to head to Madrid this summer, it has also been unbearably hot.

Here, tourists and locals alike are trying to seek shade and stay hydrated.

Meaghan Clarke, 19, who is visiting the Spanish capital, told ITV News she is taking "lots of breaks in the shade" to keep cool, while taking onboard plenty of fluids.

And the bad news is this might only be the start of it.

Climate experts have confirmed last week was the hottest on record, but they have also warned that the effects of this years 'El Niño' weather pattern, are yet to kick in.

Michael Sparrow, Chief of World Climate Research Programme, told ITV News: "We're seeing these high temperatures in the North Atlantic etcetera despite the fact that El Nino hasn't really got going yet.

"You know, we can expect much higher temperatures from the El Nino in the latter half of the year, sort of October and November time."

It seems there is hardly a season that goes by nowadays without some catastrophic weather event in one corner of the world.

But 2023 and last month, in particular, climate wake-up calls have been ringing loudly from the Americas to Asia and several places in between.

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