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Scientists launch project to analyse storms

A group of scientists has launched a project to fully analyse the effect of the recent devastating winter storms on coastlines and communities. Britain has had the wettest winter since national records began in 1910, with "energetic" storms that saw gusts of up to 108mph.

Spring tide at Tynemouth. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Lasting for 12 months, the 50,000 study has been launched to examine the direct impact of the weather in south west England. It is hoped the project, carried out by scientists from Plymouth University, will help develop adaptation strategies to protect from future storms.

Professor Gerd Masselink, principal investigator at the university's Rapid Coastal Response Unit said: "The coastal impact of this sequence of extreme Atlantic storms has been very significant.

"At several locations, prominent coastal landforms - such as bridges, stacks and arches - have disappeared, suggesting that at least some of the coastal changes will be permanent. However, many changes will turn out to be, in fact, reversible - such is the nature of a dynamic coastline."

Loss of trees in storms 'could have been worse'

The storms that hit the UK this winter caused the greatest loss of trees since 1987 but the damage could have been worse, the National Trust said.

A fallen tree after the storms that battered Britain. Credit: Sophie Duval/EMPICS Entertainment

Over 50 National Trust sites have been surveyed with, with many gardeners, rangers and foresters saying that the losses have been the greatest in two decades although other sites had little damage.

Extreme weather is likely to become more frequent as the climate changes and there is a need to plan what trees to grow and where to make woodlands more resilient to the changes, National Trust nature and wildlife specialist Matthew Oates said.

The trust said nowhere had been as devastated as it was in 1987 or 1990 but some sites had lost hundreds of trees including valued ancient specimens.

Many trees were uprooted and blown over rather than snapped off, due to the saturated ground conditions.


Storm damage 'worst since Great Storm of 1987'

Emmetts House and Garden, Ide Hill in Kent shortly after the hurricane on October 16, 1987. Credit: Mike Howarth/PA Archive

The storms that the UK endured this winter caused the greatest loss of trees since the "Great Storm" of 1987, the National Trust has said.

Old oak, ash and beech trees have been lost in woods, while specimen trees in parks and gardens have also been damaged as at least a dozen storms swept through the UK from December to February.

Given the extent of the wild weather, which hit the western half of England, Wales and Northern Ireland particularly badly, losses could have been worse, National Trust nature and wildlife specialist Matthew Oates said.

Ongoing flood risk for southern England

Communities in Dorset, South Wiltshire, Somerset and the Thames Valley have been urged to remain vigilant for continued flooding from groundwater and rivers.

The Environment Agency said flooding will continue along the River Thames over the coming days, with a potential flooding around the Chertsey Lakes.

Chertsey in Surrey is one of the areas still at risk of further flooding. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

It said groundwater levels remain very high in many places, including West Dorset, Cranborne Chase and Salisbury Plain.

River levels also remain high in parts of Hampshire, West Berkshire, Surrey, West Sussex, Wiltshire and along the River Severn in Worcester and Gloucestershire.

Environment Agency flood risk manager, Katharine Evans, said: “Teams continue to work to work around the clock, maintaining flood defences, clearing watercourses and deploying pumps and temporary defences to protect communities at risk.

River Thames continues to respond to recent rainfall

A resident checks his home next to the River Thames in Shepperton, Surrey. Credit: PA

Communities along the River Thames in Surrey should remain prepared for further flooding, the head of flood incident management for the Environment Agency has warned, as more rain is expected to fall over the next few days.

Craig Woolhouse said: "The River Thames is continuing to respond to the recent rainfall.

"River levels will remain high for the next few days and we urge people keep up to date with the latest flood warnings and take action.

"With so much standing water around, we would also remind people to stay out of flood water and not attempt to walk or drive through it."

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