The increased impact of extreme weather due to the climate crisis is evident as the UK was hit by three named storms in one week. This caused major flooding across the country.
Before the media focus shifts away from Yorkshire’s flood-damaged towns and businesses, an assessment of the financial costs of the long term damage and mitigation plans must be done.
Cultural history: Impact
The UNESCO World Heritage site Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal were severely damaged by Storm Franklin. This forced the site to be closed on Monday 21 February. Fountains Abbey was also in the National press in 2021, where it was highlighted as being at risk from climate change and is one of the National Trust’s own target sites, after Its vulnerability was discovered. The National Trust has its own statement on its website that, “We’re part of the global fight against climate change. It is the single biggest threat to the precious landscapes and historic houses we care for”.
Skell Valley ProjectIt is hoped that this partnership with local farmers, landowners, and local communities will be a significant step in mitigating the climate threat and help to ensure a sustainable future of the valley and all it contains.
Extreme weather events will be more likely due to climate crisis
Dr Fredi Otto (senior lecturer in climate sciences at Imperial College, London, and a pioneering climate attribution scientist), has recently been promoted to Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at Imperial College. Commented in a Guardian podcastAlthough it was not uncommon to have winter storms it was rare to have three named storms within a single week. She referred to 2015, when the UK bore the brunt of Storms Desmond, Eve and Frank, but highlighted that the striking feature of the recent Storm Eunice was the ‘sting-jet’, where there were extremely high winds over a small area.
Dr Otto asserts that the climate crisis is a factor in heatwaves and heavy rain events, and that these are becoming more severe and frequent. She explained that although wind speeds haven’t increased in the UK, rainfall has become more intense because of climate change and with sea levels being higher, storm surges are higher and more damaging than they would be without climate change.
Dr Otto emphasized the need to have more data to help mitigate the effects of these extreme weather events. She also stressed the importance early warning systems that are based upon climate models. This will allow people to know where to go, and how to stay safe. She concluded by saying that the current infrastructure of cities and towns must be improved to make them more resilient to climate change. This includes more green spaces, better insulation, and no building on floodplains.
More likely to see more rainfall
The Climate report: The State of the UK2020 further emphasizes increased rainfall and compares snowstorms over the past few years to highlight the significant increase that has been observed. The Met Office refers the the as supporting data. Peer-reviewed Study of Davies et. al from 2021, which states bluntly that, “climate change has increased the likelihood of extremes of this nature”.
“It is adapt or die”
“The climate crisis is global, but its impacts are in your village, your shop, your home. Adaptation action needs to be integral to government, businesses and communities too and people will soon question why it isn’t – especially when it is much cheaper to invest early in climate resilience than to live with the costs of inaction.
“Some 200 people died in this summer’s flooding in Germany. This will happen in this nation sooner or later, regardless of how high we build flood defenses. However, we must also make sure that our places of residence, work, and travel are resilient to the more severe weather the climate emergency is bringing. It is adapt or die.”
How long until the next storm?
Climate change is now more likely to lead to increased rainfall events. We cannot wait for the next storm to hit before we try to ensure that flood defenses are in place. Protecting communities and businesses is possible with both short-term and long-term solutions. The Skell Valley Project might help to protect Fountains Abbey, Studley Royal, but it is still necessary to provide support for towns and villages. The town of Tadcaster is in Yorkshire I was left reeling once moreRiver levels reached a peak of four metres, and more than 60 properties were inundated. Sheffield had to cope with the “worst flooding since 2007”The transport infrastructure was severely damaged.
These once in a generation or once-in–a-lifetime storms now occur so frequently that residents of affected areas barely have time for recovery from the last one before another one arrives. This can lead to frustration, anger, and a feeling that they are not alone.