Freak heavy rainfall expected 'once every 70 years'

Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Climate change increased the likelihood of the heavy rain which causeddevastating flooding in parts of the UK in recent days, including Northumberland, scientists have said.

An initial assessment of the potentially record-breaking rain that hit Cumbriaas part of Storm Desmond suggests rising global temperatures made it around 40% more likely than without human influence on the climate.

The dramatic amount of rain, which saw 13.44 inches fall in Honister, Cumbria, in 24 hours, has increased from a one-in-100 year event to a one-in-70 year event due to global warming, the "near real time" analysis showed.

Heavy rain that fell when Storm Desmond hit also caused flooding along parts of the Tyne Valley, hitting Corbridge and Haydon Bridge particularly badly.

Researchers from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI),University of Oxford and Climate Central used three different methods to assess whether the chances of such heavy rain had increased because of global warming.

The methods, including Oxford University's "weather at home" scheme which utilises volunteers' home computers' spare capacity to run thousands of simulations of weather, all agreed there was an increased likelihood of climate change playing a role.

The increase ranged from 5% to 80%, with a central estimate of 40%.

The researchers have submitted a scientific paper detailing their findings tothe journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.