Precedented floods

  • Date: 17/06/17
  • Andrew Montford

Well that wasn’t in the script was it? A couple of scientists working at the University of Liverpool have found that recent floods in the UK are not, contrary to received wisdom, anything exceptional at all.

…whilst recent floods are notable, several comparable periods of increased flooding are identifiable historically, with periods of greater frequency (flood-rich periods).

“But wait”, I hear you say: “Weren’t we told that flooding was going to get worse and that it was all down to global warming?”

Indeed we were. Just six months ago, that great sage of flooding risk, the chairman of the Climate Change Committee’s adaptation arm, Sir John Krebs, told the Guardian that major flooding is “likely every year” from now on. Meanwhile, Friederike Otto of the University of Oxford has told New Scientist that the sort of heavy rain that has recently caused floods in the UK is now “40 per cent more likely now than it was in the past” because of global warming. There are many more in this vein, if you look for them.

Which is a pity, because the authors of the paper go on to say that they have found good correlations in the data, but only with non-anthropogenic factors:

The principal findings of this work are that of the strong correlations between flood-rich/flood-poor phases and solar magnetic activity, [Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation] and [the North Atlantic Oscillation], indicating a clear driver for flooding patterns across Britain.

One should always be careful about correlations, but the fact that the floods are not without precedent seems clear. So is it too much to ask the alarmists to now tone things down a bit?



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