Is climate change to blame for our terrible floods?
With the terrible floods in the Midlands and particularly along the River Severn in Shropshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, many are blaming climate change.
Following on from Storm Ciara and then Storm Dennis and now Storm Jorge, plus months of wetter-than-average weather, the ground has become progressively saturated – and there’s more rain to come.
“It is too simple an answer just to blame man-made problems for today’s situation,” said Ron Fox, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park, “as British winters have always brought spells of bad weather. However, scientific experts are saying it is a factor.
“The facts speak for themselves,” he added. “According to the Met Office’s latest annual State of the UK Climate report, 2018 was warmer than any year from 1884 to 2002. And the top 10 warmest years in the UK have all occurred since 2002.
“According to the Met Office, the Central England Temperature dataset – the longest-running instrumental record of temperature in the world – shows that 2009-2018 was around 1°C warmer than 1850-1900.”
Climate scientists say that although these winter storms are nothing new, the problem is that the world is now more than 1°C warmer compared to pre-industrial times. These higher temperatures mean that more water evaporates into the air, creating more rain.
Experts say every degree temperature increase means seven per cent more water in the atmosphere and so more heavy showers. This is likely to lead to more episodes of extreme rainfall if global temperatures continue to increase.
Another serious problem is that sea levels are rising too, potentially increasing the risk of coastal flooding. NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the US government agency responsible for science and technology related to air and space, says this rate is going up and that seas have risen by an average of three inches since 1992.
This is not helped by ice sheets and glaciers, which previously stored water, are now melting more quickly adding to the volumes in the world’s oceans.
But climate scientists experts say there is considerable uncertainty about the precise effect of climate change on British weather.
However, the UK’S Environment Agency’s official flood risk management advice is to prepare for significant rises in the intensity of rainfall, the peak flow of rivers and sea levels around the country over the next century.
But they point out that, although urbanisation on flood plains and coastal areas can cause problems, the number of incidents of coastal flooding has actually fallen recently because the Met Office has got better at predicting floods and the river and coastal defences have improved.
Although politicians must implement big changes by improving flood defences and cutting countries’ carbon footprints, Ron said individuals must also play their part to stop world temperatures going up.
They can do this by moving from carbon fuels to green energy and using free sunlight, such as by installing solar panels and solar assisted heat pumps, as well as insulating their rooms with spray foam to cut heat loss and reduce energy bills.
For more information about green energy and cutting energy bills call Ron on 0845 474 6641.