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Britain Faces More Flash Floods Due To Global Warming Claims Met Office

02.06.2014 07:11 Age: 3 yrs

New research from the UK Meteorological Office predicts that Britain will experience an increase in the number of short, intense, rain storms that can result in flash flooding as a result of global warming increasing the capacity of the air to carry water vapour.

Click to expand. Difference between 2100 and present-day for the 1.5 km resolution models. Heavy rainfall is defined as the mean of the upper 5% of wet values (>0.1 mm/hr). White indicates differences or future changes not significant at the 1% level compared to year-to-year variability. Purple indicates the greatest differences. The radar data has been bias corrected using daily rain gauge data. Courtesy: Met Office and Nature Climate Change. Click to enlarge.


Short duration rain events are predicted to intensify during the summer months in the southern UK, reports a Letter published online in Nature Climate Change this week.

This predicted increase means more events would exceed the UK Met Office and UK Environment Agency Flood Forecasting Centre guidance threshold for serious flash flooding.

Changes in precipitation extremes are occurring under climate change, as the atmosphere warms and the capacity of air to hold water vapour grows. The Clausius Clapeyron (CC) relation describes the rate of change of saturated water vapour pressure with temperature as approximately by around 7% per o


The intensification of precipitation extremes with climate change is of key importance to society as a result of the large impact through flooding. Observations show that heavy rainfall is increasing on daily timescales in many regions, but how changes will manifest themselves on sub-daily timescales remains highly uncertain. Here we perform the first climate change experiments with a very high resolution (1.5 km grid spacing) model more typically used for weather forecasting, in this instance for a region of the UK. The model simulates realistic hourly rainfall characteristics, including extremes unlike coarser resolution climate models giving us confidence in its ability to project future changes at this timescale. We find the 1.5 km model shows increases in hourly rainfall intensities in winter, consistent with projections from a coarser 12 km resolution model and previous studies at the daily timescale. However, the 1.5 km model also shows a future intensification of short-duration rain in summer, with significantly more events exceeding the high thresholds indicative of serious flash flooding. We conclude that accurate representation of the local storm dynamics is an essential requirement for predicting changes to convective extremes; when included we find for the model here that summer downpours intensify with warming.


Heavier summer downpours with climate change revealed by weather forecast resolution model by Elizabeth J. Kendon, Nigel M. Roberts, Hayley J. Fowler, Malcolm J. Roberts, Steven C. Chan & Catherine A. Senior published in Nature Climate Change (2014) doi:10.1038/nclimate2258

Read the abstract and get the paper here.


Nature press release.