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Prepare for More Flash Floods in Summer Say Scientists

June 4, 2014
Environmental Protection

rainResearchers at the Met Office and Newcastle University have warned that global warming will lead to an increase in summer downpours and flash flooding. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the first to make a direct link between increasing global temperatures and summer flooding.

Under the most extreme warming projections there could be five times the number of extreme events exceeding 28mm per hour. It took the Met Office supercomputer nine months to run the latest simulations, which are the most accurate the agency has produced.

Lead author of the study Elizabeth Kendon hopes that the findings will allow the UK to prepare itself. “This should help people to understand what is likely to happen in the summer in future. It’s very important that we’ve detected this signal for heavier downpours in the UK. It’s now for policymakers to decide what to do about it,” she said.

Climate models suggest that winter rainfall will increase in the UK, but until now shorter summer bursts have been much more difficult to simulate. Intense bursts of rainfall following dry periods can be particularly problematic, as dry land is less capable of absorbing water. For example, in August 2004 in Boscastle in North Cornwall, 200mm of rain fell in four hours, giving rise to a three metre wall of water which flooded through the village causing great damage.