Climate change made UK’s waterlogged winter worse

Climate change is a major reason the UK suffered such a waterlogged winter, scientists have confirmed.

It was the country’s second wettest October to March period on record and a disaster for farmers, who faced flooded fields during a key planting period. Global warming due to humans burning fossil fuels made this level of rainfall at least four times more likely, according to the World Weather Attribution group.

The UK and Ireland’s wet winter is the latest in a long line of recent extreme weather events to have been worsened by global warming, as the impacts of climate change begin to hit home.

Storms are, of course, a natural part of UK winters, and these low pressure systems are mainly driven by the polar jet stream – a band of strong winds high up in the atmosphere. But climate scientists have long warned that a warmer planet will bring more intense rainfall in many parts of the world. The air can generally hold around 7% more moisture for every 1C of warming, and the last decade was about 1.2C warmer than pre-industrial times.

The scientists modelled what this winter might have been like without climate change and compared it to the reality of our warmer world. They found that the total amount of rainfall between October 2023 and March 2024 would have been a one-in-80-year event without humans heating up the planet, but is now expected once every 20 years.

Meanwhile, the amount of rainfall on the stormiest days increased by about 20% on average, due to climate change.

Read the full article by BBC News here.

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