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New Study: Scientists Find Recent UK Flooding Is Not Unprecedented

June 17, 2017
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By Paul Homewood

GWPF has details of a new study in to UK flooding records.

As I have often shown, there is nothing unprecedented about recent floods in Britain. What often makes it seem so is the “flood dry” period which occurred between 1970 and 2000.

This new paper comes to similar conclusions, and also finds that flooding tends to be worse during warm phases of the AMO:

 

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The apparent increase in flooding witnessed over the last decade appears in consideration to the long-term flood record not to be unprecedented; whilst the period since 2000 has been considered as flood-rich, the period 1970–2000 is “flood poor”, which may partly explain why recent floods are often perceived as extreme events. The much publicised (popular media) apparent change in flood frequency since 2000 may reflect natural variability, as there appears to be no shift in long-term flood frequency.

 

.Abstract

The last decade has witnessed severe flooding across much of the globe, but have these floods really been exceptional? Globally, relatively few instrumental river flow series extend beyond 50 years, with short records presenting significant challenges in determining flood risk from high-magnitude floods. A perceived increase in extreme floods in recent years has decreased public confidence in conventional flood risk estimates; the results affect society (insurance costs), individuals (personal vulnerability) and companies (e.g. water resource managers). Here, we show how historical records from Britain have improved understanding of high-magnitude floods, by examining past spatial and temporal variability. The findings identify that whilst recent floods are notable, several comparable periods of increased flooding are identifiable historically, with periods of greater frequency (flood-rich periods). Statistically significant relationships between the British flood index, the Atlantic Meridional Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation Index are identified. The use of historical records identifies that the largest floods often transcend single catchments affecting regions and that the current flood-rich period is not unprecedented. […]

 

Summary

The apparent increase in flooding witnessed over the last decade appears in consideration to the long-term flood record not to be unprecedented; whilst the period since 2000 has been considered as flood-rich, the period 1970–2000 is “flood poor”, which may partly explain why recent floods are often perceived as extreme events. The much publicised (popular media) apparent change in flood frequency since 2000 may reflect natural variability, as there appears to be no shift in long-term flood frequency (Fig. 5). In reviewing the flood series for European systems for which long flood series have been reconstructed, a complex picture is identified; whilst flood-rich phases appear synchronous across many systems (1765–1780) others show less synchronicity (1920s), whereas a number of prominent floodrich phases at a European scale appear subdued or are not evident in the British FI (1750s).

The principal findings of this work are that of the strong correlations between flood-rich/flood-poor phases and solar magnetic activity, AMO and NAOI, indicating a clear driver for flooding patterns across Britain. The specific mechanisms that govern the relationship between the spatial/temporal distribution of flood clusters and solar activity remain unclear. This work suggests that high-magnitude flood-rich periods relate to negative NAOI across much of the country, in western catchments with a stronger westerly airflow signal significantly correlating to positive NAOI, with reasonable correspondence with previously diagnosed periods of climatic variability identified from individual series from across Europe. It also identifies the importance of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation as a clear correlation is shown between higher North Atlantic sea temperatures and increased severe flood events across much of Britain. It is worth noting that when the threshold is reduced to the 0.8 percentile of events (Fig. 5), significant correlations remain between the British FI and summer, winter, annual AMO (1850) and NAOI (Trouet et al., 2009). The inclusion of historical flood information provides a better understanding of long-term flood patterns. The detection of flood-rich periods and attribution to periods of climatic change are tentative. The historical records still hold a wealth of untapped information for which specific discharges cannot be estimated, but from which indices could be extracted in the future (Barriendos and Coeur, 2004). The wealth of information presented by the historical records presents valuable new information for flood risk assessment and management (Kjeldsen et al., 2014); as new flood chronologies become available, more detailed and complete indices-based chronologies will improve the resolution and enhance understanding of flood-rich and flood-poor periods, presenting a more complete depiction of the role of climate and extreme floods. Extending the records back to a millennial time frame is possible, providing valuable insights into long-term trends and patterns of flood frequency and potential climatic drivers of flooding.

https://www.thegwpf.com/new-study-scientists-find-recent-uk-flooding-not-unprecedented/

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7 Comments
  1. June 17, 2017 9:25 am

    I had also come to this conclusion.
    Here is my work
    https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2929159

  2. 1saveenergy permalink
    June 17, 2017 10:29 am

    Don’t be silly, everything to do with weather / climate is unprecedented, ask Horrid Harrabin.

  3. June 17, 2017 10:57 am

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    Drought to flood and back again had always been the way. Taking one of these periods and extrapolating ad nauseam based upon belief is why we are unprepared (never ending droughts *cough*) when the cycle reverts.

  4. Gerry, England permalink
    June 17, 2017 11:48 am

    The flood poor period does explain how so many of the flood plain building schemes got through, especially towards the end of that period after 2 decades of low floods. Add in the climate change nonsense about it never raining that much again and voila – lots of flooded houses. And if that wasn’t enough, along came the DDA to ensure that every house was wheelchair friendly with no steps to the door. So no chance of building houses up above any likely flood level. Interesting that where I live the centre of the villages – ie the church – tends to be on the higher ground, above the fields by the rivers.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      June 17, 2017 12:23 pm

      Gerry, you forgot another one that “came along”, the EU & UK Environment Agency initiatives to return reclaimed wetlands back to marsh, stopping river dredging etc.
      It definitely was “Man Made” flooding.

  5. tom0mason permalink
    June 17, 2017 12:11 pm

    However a recent study of news media revealed that currently the use of the word ‘unprecedented’ has reached unprecedented levels.
    See —
    “2000-2016 shows Sciency Use of ‘Unprecedented’ Upswing in Unwanted Use of ‘Unprecedented’ is Unprecedented” Brimingham University, Social Science Dept.
    DOI:testing/testing123/666Greenwaste999

  6. A C Osborn permalink
    June 17, 2017 12:33 pm

    It is nice to see Pauls good work confirmed by others, no the icing on the cake would be for Chris Booker to another article showing it to the public at large.

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