“The number of big storms we get, one after another after another, is predicted to increase with climate change – and we think that this is what we’re seeing right now,” says Professor Daniel Parsons, director of the Energy and Environment Institute.
“It’s the same with the fires in Australia. These are the sorts of predictions we have been saying over the past 20 years and we’re seeing them manifest right now in front of our eyes in many ways.”
The past two weeks has seen the UK battered by bad weather, with Storm Ciara – dubbed “the biggest storm this century” by the Met Office – and Storm Dennis bringing high winds and punishing rains.
Rising river levels over the weekend saw hundreds of properties flooded, people having to be rescued from their homes by firefighters and a record number of flood warnings and alerts issued by the Environment Agency.
As parts of the UK try to recover from record levels of flooding – and prepare for more heavy rain forecast for later in the week – people are asking themselves the obvious question: are storms like these down to climate change?
For Parsons, a professor of sedimentology at the University of Hull, it would certainly seem to be the case.
“The impacts of climate change are being seen right now in terms of these sorts of storms,” he said, adding that it is “absolutely is the case” that we’re seeing more flooding – and that it’s likely to get worse.
Even if countries uphold the Paris Agreement and the globe only warms by 1.5C this century, “we’re going to see an increasing risk of flooding and an increasing occurrence of both the magnitude and the frequency of the sort of storms we have seen over the past few days”, Parsons added.
Dr Dann Mitchell, an associate professor in atmospheric science at Bristol University, agrees that the UK will see more “strong rain events” as climate change hits.
“We know that a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, and so...