Warnings of increased UK flooding as a result of climate change

20th February 2018

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  • England ,
  • EU ,
  • Northern Ireland



Intense bouts of flooding in the UK have increased substantially this century, with the frequency set to rise even further as a result of climate change.

That is the latest warning from the Environment Agency, which said severe flooding over the last decade was linked to extreme weather events and rising sea levels.

The agency highlighted Met Office data showing that there have been 17 record-breaking rainfall months and seasons since 1910 – nine of which have occurred since 2000.

“Climate change is likely to mean more frequent and intense flooding,” Environment Agency chief executive, Sir James Bevan, said. “Floods destroy lives, livelihoods, and property.”

This comes after a study published in the journal Climate revealed Europe is likely to see a considerable increase in flood risk in the coming years, even under an optimistic 1.5˚C temperature rise.

Researchers at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre used a multi-model analysis to assess the potential flood impacts for global temperature increases of 1.5˚C, 2˚C and 3˚C.

It was determined that most of Central and Western Europe will experience a significant rise in flooding at all warming levels, with flood damage more than doubling under the hottest scenario.

In terms of the population affected, the projected increase ranges from 86% to 123%, varying in magnitude from region to region.

The researchers concluded that substantial worsening of flood risk could be avoided by limiting global warming to lower temperature thresholds, as set out in the Paris Agreement.

“However, a considerable increase in flood risk is predicted in Europe even under the most optimistic scenario of 1.5 °C warming as compared to pre-industrial levels,” they said.

“The impacts of global warming on river flood risk in Europe are widespread and often significant, urging national governments to prepare effective adaptation plans to compensate for the foreseen increasing risks.”

Image credit: iStock


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