A new study published by the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute suggests that the likelihood of a very wet winter in England and Wales has increased by around 25%.
The study, led by researcher Dr Friederike Otto, claims to have found “a small but statistically significant increase in the probability of extremely wet winters in southern England”. With extremely heavy rainfall bringing chaos and flooding to large parts of England and Wales in December 2013 and the first few months of 2014, the conclusions of this study will come as no surprise to many British residents.
Writing on climateprediction.net, the researchers said that they “found a 1-in-100-year winter rainfall event (ie. 1% risk of extreme rainfall in the winter of any given year) is now estimated to be a 1-in-80 year event (i.e. 1.25% risk of extreme rainfall in any given winter) so the risk of a very wet winter has increased by around 25%. This change is statistically significant thanks to the number of computer simulations we were able to run– over 33,000 computer models run in the experiment.”
The researchers say their work is not yet finished on this project. In the future, they will be looking to use their findings to estimate the increased risk of both material and economic losses.
“Total winter rainfall, although useful as a benchmark, is not the direct cause of flood damage, so we are working with collaborators, such as the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, to explore the implications of our results for river flows, flooding and ultimately property damage” explains Dr Otto.