University of Reading: EXPERT COMMENT: STORM CHRISTOPH SEVERE FLOODING BECOMING ‘THE NORM’

Dr Jess Neumann, a hydrologist at the University of Reading, said:

“Whilst it is not possible to directly attribute one flood event to climate change, we know that as our climate warms, the atmosphere is able to hold more moisture which can lead to more intense rainfall and flooding.

“Large scale flood events that affect multiple areas of the UK are happening frequently – in just a few years we’ve experienced Storm Dennis, Storm Ciara and Storm Desmond which have all caused significant flood damage – and this will likely become “the norm” in future years.

“Climate change is not the only factor to consider. Exactly where the rain falls, the current conditions of the land surface, characteristics of the wider catchment and the location of ‘at risk’ communities are all important for predicting the nature of a potential flood event.

“People are and will remain at risk. Policies and actions need to work with local communities and consider what will be the most effective steps for mitigation and resilience. There is rarely a ‘one-fix solution’, but a combination of approaches including long-term and temporary defences, natural flood management and redesign of towns and cities will be needed.”


Professor Hannah Cloke, a hydrologist at the University of Reading, said:

“It is a sad fact that we have brought some of the awful events this week on ourselves by building on flood plains and development policies that make the landscape less able to cope with large amounts of water arriving all at once.

“We are seeing more and more homes at risk from flooding in the UK, and Storm Christoph has issued a reminder of just how costly it is to ignore this risks and fail to plan properly.

“Flooding tears people from their homes where evacuations are necessary, and then tears their homes from them by causing long-lasting damage. The financial and emotional impacts of Storm Christoph are not over, with more rain set to sweep in from the Atlantic next week.

“More downpours falling on top of saturated ground and already high river levels will surely mean more rivers bursting their banks and causing more devastation to communities.”

Phiala Mehring, flooding impacts researcher at the University of Reading, said:

“The pictures in the media about recent flooding are only a snapshot of what flooding is to the communities it impacts.

“Water in your home is just the start of flooding. Flooding seeps into every facet of life. You fear rain, you can’t go on holiday and leave your home alone in case the flood waters return, your lose your sense of home as a safe and secure place to live, you constantly check river level, streams, becks and drains (you become a drain spotter), you feel isolated, supported, alone (and often you are after the blue flashing lights have left the scene), you fight to get flood mitigation and alleviation schemes put in. Your whole life revolves around not flooding again.

“Until flood risk management and flood policy understands this, we will never be able to manage flooding effectively and we will continue to let flood communities down.”

Comments are closed.