a research project into the extensive flooding that affected England
and Wales in autumn 2000.
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).