Climate change will cause peak rainfall months to change in the UK predict academics
According to a group of German researchers investigating changes in rainfall patterns that result from global warming, the time of year when the UK experiences the heaviest rainfall is set to change.
The study, published in the Institute of Physics journal Environmental Research Letters, finds that by the middle of this century the south-east and London will likely experience its most extreme rainfall later in the year whereas the north-east will likely experience it earlier in the year.
The researchers predict that the most rain will fall in autumn instead of late summer in south-eastern regions and in north-western regions it will fall in December instead of November. The changes will coincide with times when rivers in those regions are at their maximum water capacity, meaning there would be an increased risk of flooding.
Lead author of the study, Anne Schindler, said: “In late autumn, the rivers in the north-west reach their maximum capacity of water, as do the eastern catchments in winter. This is the time of the year when on average the most floods occur. Therefore, you can conclude that risk of flooding increases with the timing of the near capacity state and the probability for most extreme rainfall coincides.”
The researchers, from the University of Giessen and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, used computer-based climate model simulations according to scenarios determined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) for the periods 2021-2060 and 2061-2100.
Why are German climate researchers studying rainfall in the UK? The UK has a long history of monitoring rainfall and has a large number of rain gauges scattered across the country, providing a wealth of data and making it an ideal place to study.