UK Met Office comes closer to stating that winter storms are caused by climate change

For years now the link between weather and climate has been somewhat foggy and confusing. A recent paper from the UK Met Office and the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has explored the link between climate change the severe storms being experienced in many parts of the UK this winter.  The conclusions:

  • There is an increasing body of evidence that shows that extreme daily rainfall rates in the UK are becoming more intense.
  • The rate of increase is consistent with what is expected from fundamental physics.
  • Although formal attribution is still challenging, it is possible to identify a contribution from climate change for some major flooding events, there is no evidence to counter the basic premise that a warmer world will lead to more intense daily and hourly heavy rain events.
  • It is still not yet not possible to give a definitive answer on whether climate change has or has not been a contributor to this year’s winter storms.
  • The attribution of changes in storminess and daily/hourly rain rates to anthropogenic global warming requires climate models of sufficient resolution to capture storms and their associated rainfall. Such models are now becoming available and should be deployed as soon as possible to provide a solid evidence base for future investments in flood and coastal defences.

Although the report is for the UK situation, it is interesting to the Canadian situation because it links the unusual weather in the UK to changes. specifically ocean warming, in the Pacific Ocean and tracks weather patterns from the Pacific across North America to the UK.

The report also notes that the sea level along the English Channel has already risen by about 12cm in the last 100 years. With the warming we are already committed to over the next few decades, a further 11-16cm of sea level rise is likely by 2030. This equates to 23-27cm (9-10½ inches) of total sea level rise since 1900.

GallonDaily suggests that the report provides support for the idea that the time for analysis of the impact of climate change on business operations is here.

A summary of the report and a link to the full document are available at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/2014/uk-storms-and-floods

The Met Office is the UK’s National Weather Service. It has a long history of weather forecasting and has been working in the area of climate change for more than two decades. It is a Trading Fund within the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, operating on a commercial basis under set targets. The Met Office claims to be a world leader in providing weather and climate services, employing more than 1,800 at 60 locations throughout the world.

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