October 19th, 2012 by Tim Tyler
The UK has experienced a record rainfall on top of a severe drought this year. The record rainfall created widespread flooding of a magnitude never seen before. Still, the groundwater levels were above and “well above” the average for early Autumn.
Terry Marsh from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) says: “sustained recoveries of this magnitude during the late spring and summer have not been seen before.” In 1975, the UK suffered a severe drought and the groundwater levels did not recover nearly as well, carrying into the following year.
Here’s more from the UK’s Guardian on the situation today:
The Environment Agency (EA), which is responsible for drought measures and flood defences, said the extreme weather showed the need for the UK to adopt greater resilience to protect homes, roads and power stations.
Christine Tuckett of the EA said: “The weather extremes which we’ve seen this year – with widespread floods almost immediately following a long-term drought – have brought the importance of resilience into sharp focus. Taking action today to prepare and adapt our homes, businesses, and infrastructure is vital.”
Sarah Jackson, chief adviser to the government at the Met Office, was reported by the Press Association as saying: “We are coming into a period [November to April] which is traditionally the wetter period. Because the ground is so wet, if we do have any prolonged heavy rainfall in any part of the country, there is going to be heightened risk.”
In their first comprehensive assessment of how global warming will affect the country, the Met Office found that flooding is ranked the #1 risk of climate change. According to estimates, up to 3.5 million could be at risk from flooding as temperatures rise by the year 2050.
“There is some hint but we certainly can’t say categorically that the rainfall we’ve seen this summer is a consequence of climate change,” said Jackson.
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