Climate change made the severe storms which flooded the Somerset Levels in 2014 much more likely, according to new research that suggests global warming will unleash increasingly devastating floods in coming years.
The report finds that man-made greenhouse gas emissions have increased the chance of extreme flooding by 43 per cent, as the warming climate holds larger quantities of moisture, which leads to heavier rainfall.
“What was once a 1 in 100-year event in a world without climate change is now a 1 in 70-year event,” said Dr Friederike Otto, of Oxford University, who co-wrote the report – the first research paper into the likely role of climate change in the Somerset floods.
What was once a 1 in 100-year event in a world without climate change is now a 1 in 70-year event.
During the winter of late 2013 and early 2014 the incessant rain led to significant flooding in Somerset, Devon, Dorset, Cornwall and the Thames Valley. About 5,000 homes and businesses were submerged and losses ran to more than £450m.
It is not possible to link any individual extreme weather event to climate change. However, scientists can estimate how much more likely any given event has been made by global warming.