Floods across the UK could increase by an average of 15 to 35% by 2080.
This emerges from a new study by the Water Resilient Cities project at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, which looked at flood activities as “one in two years” and “one in 30 years” for their projections.
This covers the likelihood of a flood event occurring. For example, if two years have passed or a flood event occurs, there is a one-in-two probability that it will be reached or exceeded in a particular year.
According to the study, parts of Scotland will see flooding increase by 34% over the next 50 years. At the other end of the UK in south-east England, however, only an 18% increase is expected.
Dr. Annie Visser-Quinn, data scientist at Heriot-Watt, said: “We used several data sets and methods and compared the results with the most recent data available.
“The estimates paint a worrying picture of the future UK flood landscape, particularly when combined with increasing urbanization.
“Across the UK, we’ve found that the size of the two-year event could increase by 15-35%.
“The north and east of Scotland are facing a 34% increase in flood severity, which is significant. The north of England and Wales are similar at 25-28%.
“London and the Midlands have the lowest percentage increases. The size of their two-year events will increase by 18% – even a small increase can have a profound impact on urban areas.”
It comes as the parishes began to prepare for Storm Christopher, with “significant” rainfall across much of Britain.
Serious incidents had been reported in Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire. Northern areas were also expected in the amber and yellow weather warnings for the storm with snow.
Last year’s Storm Dennis was considered a “one in 30 years” event, but scientists cannot say whether the frequency of this event will increase in years to come.
Dr. Visser-Quinn added, “We haven’t been able to get the different models to agree on these more unusual, more extreme events, so there is still uncertainty there.
“However, we believe that the bigger change will take place in the south and south-west of England.
“This is worrying as these are the more extreme events.
“Robust modeling will help improve our flood preparation, which is why this work is essential.
“New climate data released later this year should be investigated as soon as possible to inform UK flood protection policy.”