UK's Wettest January Linked to Climate Change

May 01, 2014 11:20 AM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

A new project has highlighted a potential link between climate change and increased flooding in the U.K.

Presenting at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) meeting in Vienna, Myles Allen of the University of Oxford showed evidence that climate change appears to be increasing extreme weather and flooding in a citizen science project, BBC News reported.

The University of Oxford team used two sets of climate models to gauge whether or not rainfall had increased, comparing rainfall from the current climate to rainfall predictions for a world where fossil fuels had not been used.

Nathalie Schaller, Friederike Otto and more from the university's Environmental Change Institute ran 12,842 simulations of the current world climate as well as 25,893 estimations of the world climate without any fossil fuels.

According to their findings, a warming climate has increased the likelihood that England will see rainy winters.

"Past greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution have 'loaded the weather dice,' so the probability of the south of England experiencing extremely wet winters again has slightly increased," Otto said in a statement quoted by BBC News.

"We are working with collaborators, such as at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, to explore the implications of our results for river flows, flooding, and ultimately property damage."

The BBC News report linked the study to UK Met Office data showing that January 2014 was the wettest January on record.

Schaller pointed out that the results are specific to the U.K. and should be examined in context.

"It all depends on the region and season considered. Climate change might increase, decrease or have no effect at all on flood events," she told BBC News.

"Hirabayashi and co-workers, for example, showed that floods are expected to decrease with climate change in Central Europe. So our results are only valid for the southern UK and for winter months."

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