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Flood Risk Flooding – the biggest risk of climate change


The cost of flooding could reach £12 Billion per year


The last issue of Managing Water (January 2012) included an article highlighting the main findings of a report into Climate Change, commissioned by DECC (The Department of Energy and Climate Change). This report highlighted the risk of flooding if action were not taken.


DEFRA has also released its report on the implications of climate change with flooding ranked as the worst threat. The cost of damage caused by flooding could reach £12B per year.


“Without an effective plan to prepare for the risks


from climate change the country may sleepwalk into disaster”


The Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) highlights the top 100 challenges to the UK and our economy of a changing climate and provides the most compelling evidence yet of the need to increase our resilience. The research confirms the UK as a world-leader in understanding climate risk to ensure we can make robust plans to deal with these threats.


The risks of flooding are projected to increase significantly across the UK.


If no further plans were made to adapt to changing flood risks, by the 2080s due the effects of climate change and population growth annual damages to buildings and property could reach between £2.1billion – £12billion, compared to current costs of £1.2billion. Defra has introduced a new method of allocating funding for flood defences so that more communities will benefit from flood protection, and the


Department is working with the ABI to ensure that flood insurance remains widely available after the current agreement between Government and insurers expires in 2013. As part of these discussions, Defra is considering whether there are feasible, value for money ways of targeting funding support to those at highest flood risk and less able to pay.


The Government has also announced a National Adaptation Programme that will prepare the UK for the effects of climate change, including the risks set out in the CCRA. People are encouraged to give their views through a new website on the action needed to tackle the implications of climate change where they live and work.


Speaking at the launch of the CCRA, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:


“This world class research provides the most comprehensive case yet on why we need to take action to adapt the UK and our economy to the impacts of climate change. It shows what life could be like if we stopped our preparations now, and the consequences such a decision would mean for our economic stability.


“The Climate Change Risk Assessment will be vital in helping us to understand what we need to do to stop these threats becoming a reality. In doing so there is also great potential for growth through UK firms developing innovative


products and services tailored to meet the global climate challenges.”


Professor Sir Bob Watson, Chief Scientific Adviser at Defra, said:


“The CCRA is ground-breaking research which puts the UK at the forefront of understanding what the projected changes to our climate will really mean for us.


“For the first time it means we can compare a wide range of risks based on their financial, social and environmental implications. This will be invaluable for Government in prioritising the areas for future policies and investment, and it will help businesses assess what they need to do to ensure they are resilient to the changing climate.”


Lord John Krebs, Chair of the Adaptation Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change, said:


“Without an effective plan to prepare for the risks from climate change the country may sleepwalk into disaster. This report represents an important first step in the process and demonstrates why the UK needs to take action to adapt now. The work of my Committee has found that by taking steps to manage these risks, the UK can reduce the costs of climate change in the future.


“The Government’s forthcoming adaptation programme should tackle barriers to adaptation so


that local communities, businesses and households can take action to prepare.”


Other key threats identified by the report are:


• Increasing pressure on the UK’s water resources. The CCRA projects that without action to improve water resources, there could be major supply shortages by the 2050s in parts of the north, south and east of England with the greatest challenge in the Thames River basin. Defra published a Water White Paper last year which includes a package of measures to address water supply shortages, and to ensure the water industry is more resilient to future challenges.


• Increases in drought and some pest and diseases could reduce timber yields and quality. Projected drought conditions could mean a drop in timber yields of between 10% and 25% by the 2080s in the south east, driving up timber costs. Pests and diseases, which thrive in warmer conditions, may also pose an increasing threat, such as red band needle blight – which causes loss of foliage and can lead to tree death. Defra has published a Tree and Plant Health Action Plan and committed £7million to further research into plant diseases.


For more information please click the link below: http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/20 12/01/26/climate-change-risk- assessment/


Emmissions Contribute to Flood Risk - Oxford University Research Floods caused by climate change


Devastating floods which wreaked havoc across Britain in 2000 were made more likely by global warming, according to the first study to link flooding in this country to climate change.


The Oxford University study said the floods, which damaged nearly 10,000 homes and cost £1.3 billion, were made twice as likely by a warming climate.


“we are


beginning to see how human influence on climate may be starting to load


God’s dice”. Professor Myles Allen


This is because warm air holds more moisture, making outbreaks of heavy rainfall more frequent.


The research will not only strengthen the case for increased flood defence for Britain in the future, because of global warming, but force the government and insurers to consider how people hit by such devastating events will be compensated.


Using a detailed computer climate model, developed at the Met Office Hadley


Centre, the project team simulated the weather in Autumn 2000, both as it was, and as it might have been had there been no greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the 20th Century. This was then repeated thousands of times using a global volunteer network of personal computers participating in the project.


Professor Myles Allen, of the Department of Physics and School of Geography and the Environment, a co-author of the paper, said “it is impossible to say climate change alone caused the floods and it could have been a freak event. However the studies suggest that the increase in greenhouse gases in the 20th century, that is warming the climate, made the floods appropriximately twice as likely.” “Whether or not a flood occurs in any given year is still an ‘Act of God’ but, with the help of thousands of volunteers, we are beginning to see how human influence on climate may be starting to load God’s dice,”


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Histograms (smoothed) of the fraction of risk of severe synthetic runoff in the A2000 climate that is attributable to twentieth-century anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Each coloured histogram shows this fraction of attributable risk.


The precise magnitude of the anthropogenic contribution remains uncertain, but in nine out of ten cases the model results indicate that twentieth-century anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions increased the risk of floods occurring in England and Wales in autumn 2000 by more than 20%, and in two out of three cases by more than 90%.


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