“Endless storms” hitting UK could be 10 times more likely with climate change, study finds | Climate

“Endless storms” hitting UK could be 10 times more likely with climate change, study finds |  Climate

Between October last year and March this year, rainfall in the United Kingdom and Ireland caused severe flooding, with man-made global warming up to 20% higher. This is according to a study conducted by an international team of scientists who are part of the World Weather Association (WWA).

Precipitation is primarily dictated by the position and strength of the jet stream, a group of strong westerly winds in the atmosphere driven by temperature differences between the equator and the poles. In the 2023-2024 season, this current was stronger than usual.

In this work, the responsible experts compared the probability and intensity of rainy autumn-winter in today's warming world with the probability that it would have existed in a world without high carbon emissions.

A search is underway in flooded fields following reports that a two-year-old boy fell into the River Sore at Aylstone Meadows in Leicester in February 2024 – Photo: Getty Images

The results show that without a climate crisis, rain from storms would occur only once every 50 years, but in recent times is expected every five years due to 1.2ºC of global warming. Also, unless the burning of fossil fuels is reduced quickly and global temperatures reach 2°C in the next decade or two, this extreme wet weather will occur on average every three years.

“The unrelenting rain in the UK and Ireland this autumn and winter has had significant impacts,” said Mark McCarthy, climate scientist at the UK Met Office and one of the WWA team. “In the future, we can expect further increases – which is why it's so important that we adapt to climate change and become more resilient.”

Sarah Keough, a researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and part of WWA, added: “The UK and Ireland face a wetter, tougher future because of climate change. Until the world reduces emissions to zero, the climate will continue to warm and rainfall in the UK and Ireland will continue to increase.

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oh Guardian UK ministers have been criticized for years for failing to come up with adequate plans to protect people against the effects of global warming. In July, the government's latest climate adaptation plan was deemed “too weak” by experts.

“The state of implementation of adaptation interventions is still very poor,” said Ellie Murdoch, head of UK climate adaptation at the British Red Cross. “Independent assessments in both the UK and Ireland highlight a lack of progress.”

Friedrich Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London and co-founder of WWA, said climate change was already making life “more cruel”. “Wet winters flood homes, cancel football games, overflow sewer systems and make groceries more expensive. Fortunately, we know the solutions. Replace oil, gas and coal with renewable, cleaner and cheaper energy sources; insulate homes and restore nature. All these will make life cheaper and better for everyone, not more expensive.

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