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Flood defence minister Elliot Morley today announced the findings of ...
Flood defence minister Elliot Morley today announced the findings of

a research project into the extensive flooding that affected England

and Wales in autumn 2000.

The research investigated the severity of the rainfall and river

flows in a historical context and sought to answer the popular

question as to whether they could be linked to the effects of human

induced climate change.

The research concluded that:

- The late-2000 floods were the most extensive across England and

Wales since the snowmelt-generated flooding of March 1947.

- The rainfall in autumn 2000 was the highest on record for the

period September to November and third highest on record in any

three-month period, only being exceeded in 1799 and 1929/30.

- The events of October/November 2000 were extreme, but cannot in

themselves be attributed to climate change. However, heavy rainfall

and peak river flows of similar duration have been increasing in

frequency and magnitude over the past 50 years.

- This pattern is consistent with model predictions of how human

induced climate change affects rainfall. However, it is not yet

possible to say how far events such as those of autumn 2000 can be

attributed to climate change as opposed to natural variability.

Mr Morley said:

'This research has improved our understanding of the severe rainfall

which resulted in the extensive flooding of autumn 2000. The work

adds to our developing body of knowledge, that will help government

and others assess the likely impact of climate change.

'We are seeking to understand when and how the effects of climate

change may combine with floods which we can expect to experience on

rare occasions in order to plan and manage our flood defences most

effectively for the future.

'There are still many unanswered questions and research is

continuing. Only time will enable some questions to be answered with

certainty. In the interim we will work to reduce the risks to people

and property from flooding, taking a precautionary approach and using

the best scientific advice available.'


1. This research was commissioned by DEFRA under the joint

Environment Agency and DEFRA Flood and Coastal Defence Research and

Development Programme. The work was carried out by the Joint Centre

for Hydro-Meteorological Research (a consortium of the Centre for

Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and the Met Office).

2. The report can be accessed on the DEFRA websiteand copies are

available for purchase from The Library, CEH Wallingford, Crowmarsh

Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB.

3. The DEFRA and Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Defence R&D

programme currently has over 40 ongoing projects covering a diverse

range of topics including the impact of climate change on flood


4. More extensive research into climate change is lead by the

Global Atmosphere Division of DEFRA which includes the UK Climate

Impacts Programme (UKCIP).

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