Record Floods Sweep UK
Record-breaking floods washed over substantial areas of the United Kingdom in June and July, from South London to Northern Ireland. Likely influenced by a La Niña cycle in the Pacific Ocean, the U.K. experienced a warm, dry April, followed by a series of unseasonably heavy rain storms. Repeated flooding has left several people dead, damaged tens of thousands of homes, caused £2 billion (US$4.1 billion) or more in property damage, killed livestock, and ruined crops.
These floods come at the same time as new climate research documents and predicts increasing precipitation in the middle latitudes of the northern hemisphere, including much of Europe and the United Kingdom. According to peer-reviewed research just published (Zhang, X. et al. Nature 448, 461-465 (2007)) and reported (doi:10.1038/news070723-4) in Nature, a leading international scientific journal, "Human activity has made the weather wetter in a large slice of the Northern Hemisphere... It has also made the regions just south of the Equator wetter, and those just north of it drier."
A climate change blog at Nature quotes a leading U.K. environment editor:
"Michael McCarthy at the Independent writes that "Britain is suffering from a wholly new type of civil emergency: a disaster caused by 21st-century weather," which has left more than a third of a million people without drinking water, nearly 50,000 people without power, thousands more people homeless and caused more than £2bn worth of damage so far."
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Flooding in the city of York on June 17.
Photo: Darryl Hunt
Waters threatened the Worcester Cathedral on July 23, flooding a nearby warehouse.
Photo: Mike Peters
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