Thursday 27th October 2016                 Change text size:

Flood link with climate change not 100% certain, says Met Office

Roman Hobler via flickr

The Met Office has said that it is not entirely sure that recent extreme weather in the UK can be attributed to climate change. It added that this view was “consistent with the picture” observed over past decades.

The organisation’s observations follow comments from David Cameron, who said during prime minister’s questions on Wednesday he “very much [suspected]” that there was a link between the floods that have hit the UK over the past few weeks and the manmade increase of global temperatures.

However, senior press officer at the Met Office Dan Williams said, “No attribution study has been done, so you can’t make a definitive statement about how more or less likely the recent flooding has become because of climate change.

There are still around 100 flood warnings in place in England and Wales. Eight people have died in weather-related accidents since the emergency began over Christmas.

Williams added, “There has been some observed increase in some types of extreme weather and there is some evidence, depending on which types of extreme weather you are talking about, of a link between man-made climate change and some types of extreme weather.

You can’t say definitively that an event is caused by climate change and climate change only because we have always had extreme weather.

“But the chances of extreme weather occurring may have altered because of climate change. So it would be consistent with the picture we have seen of increasing rainfall in the UK over the past few decades,” he added.

Environment minister Owen Paterson – who faced criticism over budget cuts at the Environment Agency – remained vague on whether he supported Cameron’s opinion.

When asked by Labour MP Phil Wilson if he agreed with the PM, Paterson – often criticised for his sceptical views on climate change –replied, “What the prime minister said is we should look at the practical measures we’re taking, and I entirely endorse his questions.”

Further reading:

Cameron links extreme weather to climate change as Met Office issues more flood warnings

Questions over accuracy of government’s flood defence spending

MPs question environment budget cuts amid UK floods

UK weather will ‘change rapidly’ because of climate change, experts say

Further storms predicted into new year as UK clean-up operation continues

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