Increased future flooding highly likely, climate activists warn

By agency reporter
January 12, 2013

The high rainfall totals, and individual extreme flooding events seen in the UK in 2012 are further evidence pointing to a shift in climate, most probably due to human induced climate change driven by greenhouse gas emissions, partcularly carbon dioxide emissions, say environmentalists.

2012 saw the second highest recorded rainfall total in the UK and the highest ever recorded in England, since records began in 1910.

But more revealing is the fact that four out of the five wettest years recorded have been since the year 2000, claim advocates of climate action.

As the atmosphere and oceans warm, more moisture is being carried by the atmosphere and it is this which is thought to be linked to higher rainfall and more extreme rain events, which are occuring world wide, including in India and China.

Over the UK, the position of the jet stream plays a key role in steering the low pressure systems that bring rain and after a dry start to the year, 2012 saw a very persistent pattern of the jet stream steering low after low right over the UK with resulting high rainfall.

With greenhouse gas emissions still at high levels, and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere rising year on year, we can expect further global warming and more extreme weather events in the future.

Scientists are trying to understand possible links between the jet stream position and ocean temperature, as well as the rapidly receding summer arctic ice cap. But currently no-one can be sure exactly what the impacts will be at a given time and place because the climate system is so complex.

James Abbot, Green Party of England and Wales Science and Technology spokesperson, comments: "What we do know is that with a high population density and large numbers of people living in low lying areas, the UK is very vulnerable to both inland and coastal flooding, which brings misery to those affected along with economic damage.

"Rather than the 'South of France' climate that some had predicted the UK might enjoy from global warming, it could be that we experience a much more unpleasant regime with repeated periods of high rainfall.

"The Green Party has long argued that the uncertainties and risks associated with climate change make it imperative that the UK plays a full part in the global drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including through measures such as much greater energy efficiency, investment in renewables and greening the economy.

"There is also an obvious need to prevent new development being built in flood plains and the Government, rather than weakening the planning system, should be giving planning authorities stronger powers to ensure that the new homes and businesses of the future are built outside flood risk areas, whilst at the same time investing in flood defences for existing at risk areas," says Mr Abbott.

[Ekk/3]

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