Written by by By Darren Mak, CNN
Entire villages in the Belarus-Poland border region are at risk of being submerged in Lake Voskhod in Central Europe in the middle of the night, according to researchers.
The vast lake is shared by Belarus and Poland and is so big that it extends 1,800 kilometers (1,050 miles) into Belarus. A new report on the issue, co-written by experts from both countries, highlights the problems posed by climate change.
This week’s experts’ meetings in Warsaw to discuss the findings concluded with a plea for more funding to be invested in mitigating the impact of extreme weather and flooding.
The World Weather Attribution project focuses on the science of predicting and reducing the harm caused by meteorological events, such as the widespread flooding in Serbia and Bosnia last year.
World Weather Attribution assessed the impact of the massive floods on Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina
Ukrainian village is underwater
A recent study by Michael Oppenheimer, a professor at Princeton University, shows that extreme weather is linked to climate change.
To tackle the threat of rising seas, the World Weather Attribution group is advocating for a “turning point” in the life and water management practices of the area, with “a substantial infrastructure overhaul,” according to World Weather Attribution CEO David Daley.
The consultants warn that due to the modernizations undertaken in the area’s larger cities, “many villages are entirely submerged in the middle of the night.”
In 2015, one of the nearest settlements to the river Voskhod in Vologda Oblast was covered by a huge landslide that devastated the village, destroying all buildings and roads, according to the report.
The report suggests that “the time to act on climate change is now, before it is too late” and calls for “sustainable adaptation” measures, such as an immediate halt to the construction of large houses.
But despite their warnings, no member of the task force has actually experienced a flood to warn them of the increasing risk.
“We are not sufficiently informed about future risks and action should be taken in preparation,” the report says.
Authors of the report say that regional flooding statistics were underestimated for many years due to inconsistencies in reporting in the affected region.
Projectee Michael Oppenheimer speaks to CNN about the research
“It’s like there is a whole region of the planet that has been mapped, that has the information and we have systematically overlooked it for so long, and that’s human error on our part,” says Michael Oppenheimer, a professor at Princeton University and coordinator of the work.
“We’ve forgotten about it. We don’t know about it.”
Slowly, the issue of climate change is beginning to gain traction in the region, which contains significant hydroelectric dams and canals, says Daley.
But there is still concern that the relationship between climate change and natural disasters may not be factored into governments’ plans to implement the necessary measures.
“If we’re not going to do anything to address the global issue, what’s going to be the impact of what we do in our own space?,” Daley asks.
“If we take climate change into account, I think there’s a much stronger consensus that this is a terrible time to be building infrastructure in places like this. If we don’t take it into account, I don’t know what could be done.”