With the flood event still unfolding, it is too early to fully assess its magnitude or severity. But we do know that many major rivers have reached their highest levels on record, with the word “unprecedented” being used widely. These floods come only three months after similarly devastating – and record-breaking – flooding in Yorkshire and the Midlands. The summer of 2019 also saw more localised, but dramatic, flooding in the Peak District and Lincolnshire. It certainly seems unusual to have such a cluster of extreme floods – and it feels like the term “unprecedented” is wearing thin. One doesn’t need to look back far to find previous “unprecedented” flooding events. A growing number of these attribution studies have demonstrated that particular flood episodes bear the “fingerprint” of human-induced warming. For example, studies have showed the 2013-14 floods were made more likely because of human influence on the climate and the contribution of warming to the 2015-16 floods was assessed using similar techniques. While these studies have focused on individual flood events rather than long-term trends, they increase our confidence that recent increases in flooding have been exacerbated by human-caused warming.
Carbon Brief 20th Feb 2020 read more »