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Human influence on climate in the 2014 southern England winter floods and their impacts

Schaller, Nathalie; Kay, Alison L.; Lamb, Rob; Massey, Neil R.; van Oldenborgh, Geert Jan; Otto, Friederike E.L.; Sparrow, Sarah N.; Vautard, Robert; Yiou, Pascal; Ashpole, Ian; Bowery, Andy; Crooks, Susan M.; Haustein, Karsten; Huntingford, Chris; Ingram, William J.; Jones, Richard G.; Legg, Tim; Miller, Jonathan; Skeggs, Jessica; Wallom, David; Weisheimer, Antje; Wilson, Simon; Stott, Peter A.; Allen, Myles R.. 2016 Human influence on climate in the 2014 southern England winter floods and their impacts. Nature Climate Change, 6 (6). 627-634. 10.1038/nclimate2927

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Abstract/Summary

A succession of storms reaching Southern England in the winter of 2013/2014 caused severe floods and £451 million insured losses. In a large ensemble of climate model simulations, we find that, as well as increasing the amount of moisture the atmosphere can hold, anthropogenic warming caused a small but significant increase in the number of January days with westerly flow, both of which increased extreme precipitation. Hydrological modelling indicates this increased extreme 30-day-average Thames river flows, and slightly increased daily peak flows, consistent with the understanding of the catchment’s sensitivity to longer-duration precipitation and changes in the role of snowmelt. Consequently, flood risk mapping shows a small increase in properties in the Thames catchment potentially at risk of riverine flooding, with a substantial range of uncertainty, demonstrating the importance of explicit modelling of impacts and relatively subtle changes in weather-related risks when quantifying present-day effects of human influence on climate.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1038/nclimate2927
CEH Sections: Reynard
ISSN: 1758-678X
Additional Keywords: atmospheric dynamics, attribution, climate-change impacts, hydrology
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Meteorology and Climatology
Date made live: 02 Feb 2016 16:12 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/509886

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