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Met Office Study Shows High Risk Of Unprecedented Rainfall In Winter

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Met Office Study Shows High Risk Of Unprecedented Rainfall In Winter

A Met Office study has shown that the UK is at risk of 'unprecedented' winter downpours and that there is a high chance of record-breaking rainfall in England and Wales in the next ten years.

According to the figures obtained, there's now a one in three chance of monthly rainfall records being broken in England and Wales during the winter months.

To get the results the Met Office used a supercomputer and took into account natural variability, as well as the global warming factor to make an accurate and informed calculation.

The study highlights the risk of extreme flooding as the UK climate rises due to global warming.

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In the winter of 2013/14, a series of storms caused widespread and severe flooding, resulting in about £1 billion ($1.3bn) worth of damage in the Thames River valley. Much of southern England and the midlands was hit too, with experts describing it as the worst rainfall in 100 years.

flooding
flooding

January 2014's huge rainfall caused widespread flooding. Credit: PA

Researchers say that there was nothing on record to show that such severe weather was possible, but by running the data through the new climate model they were able to find many modelled months with similar rainfall to that of the 2013/2014 downpours.

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Leading the study was Dr Vikki Thompson, who told BBC News: "We found many unprecedented events in the model data and this comes out as a 7 percent risk of a monthly record extreme in a given winter in the next few years, that's just over south-east England.

"Looking at all the regions of England and Wales, we found a 34 percent chance of an extreme event happening in at least one of those regions each year."

The researchers, led by Dr Thompson, added that these estimates of the risks were 'only valid in the current climate'.

flooding
flooding
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Credit: PA

"Future climate change is likely to alter the chances of extremes," they wrote. "This is a significant risk and could be used to inform decision makers on the likelihood and intensity of unprecedented rainfall events in the near future to protect the public, business and infrastructure from extreme rainfall and flooding."

Researchers on the study were also able to estimate that these modelled events could break existing records by up to 30 percent.

"That is an enormous number, to have a monthly value that's 30 percent larger. It's a bit like what we had in 2014, and as much again," said Prof Adam Scaife from the Met Office.

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"There's a good chance of a record and there's a good chance that it would be much bigger than the current record," continued Prof Scaife.

"We are not attributing this directly to climate change, what we are saying is that if you take in everything that's in the climate system today then that is the risk. Climate change is already happening and we've already got some and that is folded in here."

Sources: BBC, Independent

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Weather, flooding

Mark McGowan
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