When struck with freak weather or natural disasters, it is easy to simply attribute them to “bloody British weather”. After the January floods, a number of key questions were raised about the future. Are we now experiencing the effects of global warming? Some may assume this to be the case, however, there is always caution associated with these statements and scientists are usually unwilling to give a definitive answer until significant evidence arises. It is difficult to know because under normal circumstances, we are unsure what would have happened in a world without fossil fuel contributions to the climate. Well now we can: research shows that the January flooding is linked to climate change.
A team at the University of Oxford ran an “attribution experiment”. They were able to use models to compare current rainfall and predicted rainfall of a world without the climate effect of fossil fuels. The experiments ran 12,842 simulations and deduced that there was a significant difference between the two instances. With the wettest weather since records began in January, can we expect more of the same in the future?
The evidence suggests the impact is small, but it does not prevent it from being significant. In terms of probability, climate change is the equivalent to a genetic predisposition to disease when considering unpredictable weather conditions. We are increasing the likelihood and are at a disadvantage from the off as a result, which is potentially an issue we need to minimise to help manage future disastrous weather.