Over the Christmas holidays, I had a dramatic experience of on one our Thematic Collecting themes when the Calder Valley where I live was flooded.
There had been substantial amounts of rain on Christmas Day which continued on Boxing Day. It was quite staggering how quickly the waters rose and went away again, just in the matter of a few hours.
The obvious question when such a dramatic event happens is ‘Is this just bad luck or are we starting to see the effects of climate change?’
Well, as with a lot of these things, it is not clear. The Boxing Day floods taken in isolation were an extreme weather event and not by themselves evidence of climate change. Evidence of climate change can only be seen in long term patterns such as global temperature increases since the 1800s. Saying that, warmer air can hold more moisture than cooler, potentially leading to more rain. Much of December had been exceptionally mild in the UK. Many climate scientists predict climate change will bring more extreme weather events such as this. An interesting article on this debate was published in the Independent.
The main lesson I think we should take from these events up and down the country is that these kinds of things are very likely to happen again. Resilience to flooding is the best strategy.