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expert reaction to research on the 2013/14 flooding and climate change

An article published in the journal Nature Climate Change has modeled the effects of climate change due to human activity, and report that it increased the likelihood of extreme rainfall.


Prof. Ted Shepherd, Grantham Professor of Climate Science at the University of Reading, said:

“This is a very interesting study, as it is the first to perform an end-to-end estimate of climate change impacts for an extreme weather event — in this case the extreme flooding in the UK in January 2014. Furthermore, it is novel in attempting to distinguish between different sources of uncertainty in the attribution.

“The authors make some interesting findings. As expected, thermodynamic aspects of climate change dominate the expected increase in extreme rainfall — in other words, a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, meaning more rain. But when it comes to flooding of properties around the Thames, changes in the jet stream can make the difference between a decrease and an increase in flood risk.

“This study highlights the fact that we need a better understanding of not just how and where climate change is warming the atmosphere, but also how it is changing patterns of wind and rain, in order to best prepare for extreme rainfall and floods.”


‘Human influence on climate in the 2014 southern England winter floods and their impacts’ by Nathalie Schaller et al. will be published in Nature Climate Change on Monday 1 February 2016. 


Declared interests

None declared

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