Short, sharp downpours could become an increasingly unwanted characteristic of the British summer if the effects of global warming are to continue, experts have warned.
A landmark study by the Met Office and Newcastle University has identified how climate change could result in heavier summer rainfall, which in turn could increase the risk of flash flooding.
The study, published in the Nature and Climate Change journal, said: “Short duration rain events are predicted to intensify during the summer months in the southern United Kingdom.
“This predicted increase means more events would exceed the Met Office and Environment Agency Flood Forecasting Centre guidance threshold for serious flash flooding.”
The report highlights how short bursts of heavy rainfall triggered flooding in the north Cornwall town of Boscastle nearly a decade ago, when the coastal community was brought to its knees as a result of an atrocious pocket of unseasonable summer weather.
Researchers say the study is significant because previous climate models have not been able to work out the effect on extreme hourly rainfall in the warmer months.
To improve the resolution of their model, researchers in this latest experiment used smaller grid spacings than normal, providing it with more detailed research.
The report adds that previous interpretations of future regional climate change scenarios should be revisited, as changes in these types of rain events could have been underestimated.