Scientists are warning that the UK can expect warmer winters and increased flooding as the new normal.
Hannah Cloke, a hydrologist, explains the recent flooding in Britain simply by saying that while our holiday decorations may have been taken down, the flood warning map is currently showing numerous alerts, resembling a lit-up Christmas tree.
The reason for this chaos is evident. A series of storms during the fall and winter, named Babet, Ciarán, Debi, Elin, Fergus, and Gerrit, have transformed Britain into a waterlogged sponge, according to a researcher from Reading University.
Last week, Storm Henk arrived. Its heavy precipitation had no outlet except to flow into our rivers, causing them to dramatically overflow throughout the country. Over 1,000 residences in England were inundated and certain villages were completely isolated, with Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, Gloucestershire, and Wiltshire experiencing the most severe impacts.
The data from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology shows that the UK experienced its wettest period on record between July and December in 2023. The reason for this can be easily explained.
Linda Speight from Oxford University stated that the Earth’s climate is being affected by rising temperatures, causing the atmosphere to hold more moisture. This results in heavier rainfall and an increased risk of flooding. The UK has already seen evidence of this with warmer and wetter winters, which is expected to continue in the future.
Christian Dunn, a professor at Bangor University, stated that in addition to causing higher levels of moisture in the atmosphere, other human activities are also playing a role in the rise of flooding. He suggests that natural solutions, such as wetlands, can help mitigate this issue by acting as large sponges that absorb excess rainwater during wet seasons and release it during drier periods.
Unfortunately, Britain has disturbed its peatland, eliminated its marshes, and developed on its flood-prone areas. Consequently, the country has greatly diminished its inherent defense against the consequences of flooding. Dunn emphasized the importance of actively preserving and expanding wetlands in order to mitigate these issues.
According to meteorologists, there is a lot more to come in the future. They predict that as human activities continue to contribute to climate change, we can expect to see even higher levels of river flow, leading to more severe flooding and negative impacts on individuals, buildings, and public services. Steve Turner from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology shared this information.
Kevin Collins from the Open University supported this idea, stating that in regards to infrastructure planning, we should shift away from traditional methods. Instead, we should consider the potential risks to our communities and economy and work towards building resilience against them, particularly in light of climate change.
Professor Trevor Hoey from Brunel University London, who specializes in the study of rivers, also believes there are similarities between the current national response to Covid-19 and the government’s approach to risk preparedness. He hopes that the government is paying close attention to the findings of the inquiry.