Sunday, July 29, 2007

Britain's great flood a reminder of more to come

An unusual meteorological event is responsible for this summer's weather in the UK, not global warming. A shift to the south in the position of the jet stream brought a heatwave to eastern Europe and storms normally found in higher latitudes to England.

But global warming is expected to cause more and more flooding in the UK into the near future.

"Extreme rainfall events are likely to get more extreme and it will lead to flooding," he says. "Although it is hard to predict exactly where the floods will occur on a local scale, people need to start thinking about whether we are ready for more of these."
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Floods are scary things. And they are due to get a lot scarier.

Climate scientists predict that by the end of the century storms like those that have swept across England this summer will hit Britain far more frequently. National average rainfall will increase by around 20 per cent, and much of that will fall in extreme, torrential downpours bringing a month's worth of rain in a single day.

The reason is that, as the climate warms, the atmosphere above our heads will be able to hold more and more moisture which, when it is eventually released as rain, means much heavier rain, explains Peter Stott, a climate scientist at the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Change.

UK flooding predicted as a result of global warming
Potential extent of flooding by 2080: Click to enlarge
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