Scottish researchers say climate change will 'a hundred per cent' lead to more rainfall
Climate change is driving more heavy rainfall in winter storms and increasing the risk of flooding for which the UK is "clearly" not ready, experts have warned.
The country took a battering from heavy rain and strong winds as Storm Dennis swept in over the weekend, just a week after Storm Ciara, with more than a month's rain falling in 48 hours in some places, and homes, roads and railways flooded.
Research has shown that the conditions in a previous winter storm, Desmond in 2015, which brought very heavy rain to parts of the UK and caused widespread flooding, were made 40 per cent more likely due to climate change.
In the wake of the latest storms, Dr Michael Byrne, lecturer in climate science at the University of St Andrews and research fellow at the University of Oxford, said more water in the atmosphere is "an entirely inevitable consequence of climate change".
"When you warm the planet, the atmosphere holds more water. In many parts of the world, including the UK, rising temperatures go hand in hand with more rain," he told the PA news agency.
He said the jury is still out on whether climate change will strengthen or weaken the high winds in storms such as Ciara and Dennis, but "when the storms come there will be more rain associated with them".
"These storms are nothing new, going back 100 years, but, because we are now more than 1C warmer as a whole versus pre-industrial times, every degree means 7\% more water in the atmosphere and more rain in these heavy rain events.
"When they come, they bring more rain, 100 per cent for certain, because of climate change."
If temperatures rise by 3C, which is what efforts to cut emissions already outlined by countries currently put the world on track for, storms could be bringing around 20\% mor