Summers will be WETTER than predicted in coming years with frequent downpours leading to greater risk of flooding in Britain, study warns

  • The University of Plymouth looked at the level of rain over time on Dartmoor
  • They found that there had been a 12 per cent rise in rain levels year-on-year 
  • Researchers predict the rainfall level rise will continue and increase over time 
  • The Met Office say we will see drier summers but with more intense downpours

As homes and communities in the UK continue to suffer from flooding and torrential rain, a new study claims there could be heavier downpours in the future. 

A team from the University of Plymouth have been looking through the archive and found that Britain has been getting wetter each year, particularly on higher ground.

They have studied the weather around Dartmoor in Devon over the past 150 years and predict there will be more rain and heavier downfalls than are currently being predicted by the UK Met Office climate projections.

The Met Office say their models predict extremes in some areas but also show that while summers will be drier and hotter, there will be more intense isolated downpours that could lead to more regular flooding. 

Scientists summers will get warmer and drier in future but there will be more heavy short downpours which could leading to more flooding, as seen here in Doncaster

The Met Office UK Climate Projections tool makes use of the latest climate science data to analyse weather patterns and then provide predictions on how the climate will change over the course of the 21st century.

Their models predict summers will become hotter and drier and winters will become warmer and wetter than they are currently. 

The Plymouth team focused their study on the upland areas of Dartmoor, but say the results are also relevant to other areas, particularly over upland coastal areas.

A team from the University of Plymouth have been examining forecast data from the past 150 years and predict wetter we are in for more rain in the summer and possibly more flooding

The team studied weather patterns in upland areas like Dartmoor – pictured  – as the levels of rain in upland areas are typically twice the average of those for lowland sites which means they contribute to any flood damage downstream

The team found that over the past 130 years rainfall in upland areas has increased in all seasons with spring, autumn and winter increasing by more than 12 per cent. 

They found that winter rain levels from their predictions was broadly the same as levels suggested by the Met Office.

‘Current models predict that by 2050, summer rainfall on Dartmoor will fall by as much as 20 per cent, but our results from past records show that it is on an upward trajectory’, said Dr Paul Lunt one of the authors of the research.

‘Our study helps to contextualise the latest UK change projections, and suggest caution is required when making assumptions on climate impacts based on climate models.’

The Met Office says both models show the climate is changing over time and action is needed to prepare for the changes. 

Dr Lunt and his team have been examining the amount it has rained each year from the 1870s to today and comparing those records to the predictions being made by the Met Office for the future of the British climate. 

‘This research highlights the complex challenges facing those trying to predict the effects of climate change. 

‘Upland areas are among the most important UK regions in terms of biodiversity and carbon sequestration, but they are also the most vulnerable to increased precipitation’, Dr Lunt said.

The Met Office climate models predict there will be warmer but drier summers with more heavy isolated downpours leading to heavier floods like the ones in Doncaster (pictured)

The research focused on upland areas because they cover about a third of the UK land mass and are of national and international importance due to their biodiversity and cultural heritage. 

They are also the source of 68 per cent of the UK’s freshwater and have a significant role in flood risk mitigation, according to Dr Lunt.

Levels of rain in upland areas are typically twice the average of those for lowland sites which means they contribute to any flood damage downstream. 

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