U.K. Braced for Record Wet Winters Caused by Climate Shift

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The Coming Storm of Climate Change

Britain faces a future of record-breaking wet winters, potentially leading to more of the widespread flooding seen in recent years, according to new modeling that incorporates changing climate patterns.

England and Wales now have a 34 percent chance of record rainfall between October and March, the study by the government’s Met Office said on Monday. In 2013, heavy rain deluged parts of Cornwall and the south east. That was followed by three named storms that flooded some of Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire in December 2015, while Storm Angus battered parts of Britain last November.

Changing weather patterns caused by increasing global temperatures means meteorologists can no longer rely on historical rainfall records to predict future weather events. Instead, a new supercomputer at the Met Office simulated thousands of possible scenarios using current climate patterns.

“This gave many more extreme events than have happened in the real world, helping us work out how severe things could get,” Adam Scaife, lead researcher on the study, said in a statement.

The simulations could help insurers and governments to assess risks and plan for future extreme weather events, Vikki Thompson, lead author of the report, said in a video released by the Met Office. The Association of British Insurers estimated floods in December cost about 1.3 billion pounds ($1.7 billion) in claims.

“This is important research and reinforces our call for the government to prepare for and expect a significant flood event to take place somewhere in the country almost every year,” said Daniel Johns, head of adaptation at the U.K. Committee on Climate Change, which advises the government on its response to global warming.

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