The most comprehensive and authoritative hydrological analysis of the record-breaking summer 2007 floods has been published.

The summer 2007 floods in England and Wales : a hydrological appraisal brings together both flood data and meteorological data.

The 32 page report systematically breaks down the series of events which led to the major flooding. The report calls summer 2007 a ‘very singular episode, which does not form part of any clearly emerging pattern or long term trend consistent with currently favoured climate change scenarios.’

The flooding was remarkable in its extent and severity, and truly outstanding for a summer event. It underlined the UK’s continuing vulnerability to climatic extremes, but long-term rainfall and river flow records confirm the exceptional rarity of the hydrological conditions experienced in 2007.

The May to July rainfall was the highest for England and Wales since 1766, but it was the concentration of the most exceptional runoff into several major basins that caused the extensive flooding in the summer of 2007. Peak river flows exceeded the design limits of many flood alleviation schemes and urban drainage systems were overwhelmed in many areas.

An unusual, and very significant, feature of the summer flooding was the high proportion of damage not attributable to fluvial [river] flooding. Insurance claims for the 2007 floods are approaching £3 billion. The study was carried out by scientists from the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), and builds on the data collated by the UK National Hydrological Monitoring Programme (NHMP), operated jointly by CEH and the NERC British Geological Survey.