Floods are becoming a major concern for the UK government. Flood-related events have repeatedly made the headlines in recent times, as there have been 9 record-breaking rainfall months or seasons since 2000 (out of the 17 that occurred since 1910). The Committee on Climate Change, a UK agency dedicated to informing the government on climate issues, released a landmark risk assessment report in 2016 putting floods at the top of the list. It estimates that 1.8 million people in the UK are already living in areas with significant flooding risks, and that damages from flooding and coastal change already average an estimated GBP 1 bn per year in the country. The odds are that the situation will only worsen. JBA, a company specialised in flood risk management, built a climate change flood model for the UK based on the Committee’s report, historical data and UK Government climate change factors. According to their model the Annual Average Loss for residential properties in the UK could rise by 25-30% over the next 20 years.
Cumulative rainfall in the UK over a 12-month period (in mm of rain)
The UK bears a high exposure to flooding risks because it is an island with a strong oceanic weather and low altitude, but the problem of sea-level rise and rainfall intensification is global and so are the solutions. The short-term solutions deployed by the government such as preparing emergency response services and informing the population on how to react to floods through a communication campaign are necessary to protect the population. However, economic damages seem unavoidable and the investments made by the government so far in flood defensive measures will likely not be enough to curb the growing consequences of climate change, as is suggested by JBA’s model.