Climate change


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Climate change

  1. 1. the climate is changingtime to get ready
  2. 2. We are the Environment Agency. It’s our job to look after your environment andmake it a better place – for you, and for future generations.Your environment is the air you breathe, the water you drink and the groundyou walk on. Working with business, Government and society as a whole, we aremaking your environment cleaner and healthier.The Environment Agency. Out there, making your environment a better place.Published by:Environment AgencyRio HouseWaterside Drive, Aztec WestAlmondsbury, Bristol BS32 4UDTel: 08708 506 506Email:© Environment AgencyAll rights reserved. This document may be reproduced withprior permission of the Environment Agency.March 2005
  3. 3. Time to get ready ContentsThe weather is changing. Temperatures and sea levels are rising. The Issue 1Summers are getting hotter, winters wetter. What does that mean to The cause 4 Creating a better place:England and Wales? What will it be like to live here? Should you care? limiting and adapting toWhat can we – the Environment Agency – and you do about it? climate change 5 Putting a price on climate change 9 Living in the twenty-first century 10Here at the Environment Agency, climate change is our highest priority. We are building the Too much rain 11country’s resilience to some of the biggest impacts: water shortages, flooding and environmental Summer flooding 11deterioration. And, in our regulation of industry, we are playing our part in addressing the causes. Winter flooding 13 Winter storms andIn this, our first national report on climate change, we answer some of the questions above by sea level rise 15using real examples of conditions that will become more common as the climate changes. Longer, drier, hotter summers 18 Water supply 18We report from our own point of view and focus on the threats rather than the opportunities, Water quality 19because that is where we need to take action. This is also an invitation. We are making it clear Higher temperatures 19what we already do and what we want to do. If you are working on climate change, you need to Air pollution 20talk to us so that we can work together. Biodiversity impacts 21 Summary 23I look forward to hearing from you. Further information 26 References 27 Barbara Young Chief Executive, Environment Agency
  4. 4. The issue Climate change is the biggest threat to our future. Climate change means that extreme weather events will become more frequent and more Already in the first years of this century, floods, dangerous. The severity will depend on the amount of greenhouse gases released into storms and droughts have shown how vulnerable the the atmosphere from now on, and how the climate system responds. By 2100 we can UK is to the weather. We at the Environment Agency expect global temperature increases of 1.4 to work with local communities all around England and 5.8˚C.1 At the upper end of this range, changes are likely to be so extreme that it will Wales. We know from our on-the-ground experience be difficult to cope with them. The European Union (EU) has proposed that global the devastation that recent unusual weather events temperature rises need to be limited to 2˚C to avoid dangerous climate change.2 have caused. To achieve this, society must cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas, now.01 Environment Agency The climate is changing The issue
  5. 5. Find out about further i sources of information where you see this symbol. What might happen? It’s not all bad Current projections for ‘Listen – I am as worried as anyoneIt is now clear that climate change has been the UK else about global warming, but 1 2 IPCC (2001) European Commission (2004)triggered by increases in greenhouse gases, in having lunch outdoors five times by 3 See for example the IPCC’sparticular those released from the use of The UK Climate Impacts Programme the middle of March has been a bit of Third Assessment Report 4 (2001) and Oreskes (2004).fossil fuels.3 The carbon dioxide already scenarios indicate that: a treat.’ The latter presents a review of the 928 papers publishedreleased has determined the changes for the • By the 2080s average annual Nigel Slater, writing in the Observer, about climate change innext 30 to 40 years. But beyond that there is a temperature across the UK may scientific journals between 14 April 2002 1993 and 2003choice. Further changes depend on how well rise by between 2 and 3.5˚C but 4 UKCIP (2002a)the causes are mitigated (reduced) from now some areas could warm by as much Global warming could bringon. In the meantime, resilience to current as 5˚C. opportunities. Most people will enjoyclimate variability and extreme weather must warmer summers, provided they arebe developed. • Heavy winter rainfall events that occur every two years are expected not too hot – but not the winter rain. to increase in intensity by between Farmers could use the longer growing five and 20 per cent. season to expand their range of crops Find out more about our i views on climate change. • Relative sea-level around the UK could rise by as much as 86 cm in – as long as there’s enough water. Higher levels of carbon dioxide may allow plants to grow faster – again if www.environment- southern England by the 2080s, there’s enough water. and extreme high sea levels will temperatures will allow some plants occur more frequently. and animals to expand their range – These scenarios are currently being but for others it will contract. updated. See Environment Agency The climate is changing The issue 02
  6. 6. At the Environment Carlisle and surrounding area, 2005 winter flooding Agency, we are already Stanhope and Haydon Bridge, winter 2005, highest ever river levels building the country’s Rail between Harrogate and Leeds Yorkshire and County Durham resilience to some of the 2002, summer flash floods summer flash floods, 2000 Filey 2002, summer flooding most significant impacts Lancashire 2004, ‘worst in living memory’ summer flash floods of climate change. Hull 2000, highest tidal Industry hit by coastal flooding surge for 40 years in 2000 and 2001 Trefriw and Llanrwst 2004 River Soar 2003, record and 2005, winter flooding low river levels These impacts include (see Figure 1): and landslides • The strain on water availability for people Snowdonia, less snow Great Yarmouth and ecosystems brought by longer, hotter, 2000, tornado Towns on the River drier summers and development in areas Severn, winter flooding, Harrow 2004, Essex and Suffolk where water resources are scarce. 2000 and 2004 summer flash floods saltmarshes lost to the sea • An increase in flood risk caused by wetter River Yscir, 2003 winters, greater storminess and sea level record low river levels London: 2002 summer rise. In England and Wales, 5 million flash floods, 2003 Rhoose 1989, highest windspeed heatwave. Thames people already live in flood risk areas and ever recorded in England Barrier raised record about 12 per cent of farmland and a and Wales 11 times in 2001 quarter of industrial sites are at risk. Some Upton winter 2003, 11 per cent of new homes are built in flood groundwater flooding Brogdale 2003, highest risk areas in England.5 temperature ever in the UK Boscastle 2004, • An increase in air and water pollution summer flash River Rother 2003, low river flows River Stour 2003, triggered by longer, hotter summers. floods record low river levels Chertsey, Wraysbury 2003, winter flooding River Itchen, low river flows Looe, Penzance, Porthleven and South East 2000, Falmouth 2004, coastal flooding summer flash floods Figure 1 Recent weather events around England and Wales described in this report03 Environment Agency The climate is changing The issue
  7. 7. The causeGlobal climate change has been caused by an increase in greenhouse gases 6 in theatmosphere. These gases come from both natural and man-made sources, but theincrease is the result of human activity7(Figure 2), mainly the release of carbondioxide from the use of fossil fuels such as coal, gas, oil, petrol and diesel. 5Overall, UK emissions of carbon dioxide fell Figure 2 The effect of human activity on global Figure 3 UK carbon dioxide emissions, 1990 to 2003 ODPM (2004a) 6 The main greenhouse gases temperaturesbetween 1990 and 2002 (Figure 3). This was are carbon dioxide, methane, Index (1990 = 100) Contributions to 2002 emissions nitrous oxide,largely the result of reductions made by the Actual temperature Natural effects and perfluorocarbons (PFCs), man-made effects 120 Domestic 16%industries we regulate and a move away from hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) Natural effects (solar and volcanic activity) and sulphur hexafluoridecoal and oil to gas-fired power stations. But (SF6) 110releases from both domestic sources and Temperature change ˚C 7 See for example Stott et al. Transport 24% (2004)transport rose over the same period, and the 1.0 8 100 Due to an increase in gasoutput from coal-fired power stations is now prices and maintenance costsrising again.8 at nuclear power stations in 90 Processes we the last two years 9 Department for TransportMore and more of us are taking to the roads regulate 41% 0.5 White Paper (2004)and skies. Traffic levels are predicted to rise by 80 10 Measured in passenger-40 per cent between 2000 and 20259 and kilometres, from 1995 base. Transport 2000 (seeworldwide air travel is expected to double 70 www.transport2000.between 1995 and 2015.10 But there is a cost 0.0 Facts.asp)for the climate. New technologies are reducing 1990 1994 1998 2002the pollution from individual vehicles, but thebenefit is offset by the increasing volume of 2002 is the latest year of data available for domestic andtraffic. Transport is now the second most 1850 1900 1950 2000 transport emissions. Emissions from transport do not includeimportant source of carbon dioxide emissions. shipping or aviation. Source: NETCEN, Environment AgencyThese include releases by aeroplanes in the Source: IPCC (2001)upper atmosphere, which have an importanteffect compared to emissions at ground level. Environment Agency The climate is changing The issue 04
  8. 8. Creating a better place: limiting and adapting to climate change ‘The ultimate objective … is to achieve … The climate is already changing and the UK The UK is a world leader in the drive to reduce 11 See for more information on the stabilisation of greenhouse gas has to adapt to the inevitable effects. Global carbon dioxide, but is not currently on track to UNFCCC concentrations in the atmosphere at a level carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced meet national commitments by 2010. The 12 Energy Saving Trust (see that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic and stabilised in order to limit the extent of Prime Minister has said that ‘we have to do climatechange/forecasting/ interference with the climate system. Such a climate change to manageable levels. This more to achieve our commitment to reduce makeadifference/) level should be achieved within a time frame means moving to low carbon energy – carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 13 14 DTI (2004) EurObser’ER (2004) to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to increasing the use of renewable and other 2010.’15 We support more stringent effort, as 15 14 September 2004 speech. climate change, to ensure that food non-fossil fuel based energy, reducing demand we think it is vital that the UK meets both this output/page6333.asp production is not threatened and to enable and improving efficiency. In the long term, commitment and the target of a 60 per cent 16 Defra December 2004 review economic development to proceed in a these measures will also save money – the reduction in carbon dioxide by 2050. of the UK Climate Change Programme sustainable manner.’ average UK household could save £200 a year The Government has identified opportunities 17 Environment Agency (2004) by improving energy efficiency, for example.12 18 Environment Agency (2001c) United Nations Framework Convention on to further reduce carbon dioxide releases and Climate Change.11 The UK has the largest potential for wind, wave will publish a review of the Climate Change and tidal energy in Europe, but currently Programme this year after consultation.16 generates only three per cent of electricity from We also support its proposal of a UK-wide renewable resources,13 way behind Austria adaptation framework that sets out clear (59 per cent), Sweden (43 per cent), Portugal objectives, roles and responsibilities for (42 per cent) and Spain (26 per cent).14 If the government, government bodies and other UK is to meet the target of generating 20 per stakeholders to ensure that the UK is cent of electricity using renewable energy by sufficiently prepared for climate change. Only 2020, rapid adoption of these renewable by taking action now can we minimise the energy schemes is needed. impact of climate change on our quality of life.05 Environment Agency The climate is changing The issue
  9. 9. The results of decisions taken today to protect societyfrom a changing climate may last many decades or evencenturies. If they are to stand the test of time, they needto be resilient to the future climate. Building resilienceinto the early stages of big infrastructure projects forexample will save money in the long run.Development in inappropriate locations can But designing and building in ways that areexacerbate the problems associated with flood more water efficient and resilient to floodingrisk and limited water supply. To avoid need not be costly. We believe that designingcreating problems in the future it is essential in efficiency measures can reduce an averagethat planners and developers work with us to household’s water use by 25 per cent at noensure that development is located in the best extra and is resilient to climate change. We As an organisation, we consider climateneed better application of national policy to change in everything we do. We are definingprevent inappropriate development on flood and planning for the impacts of climateplains or areas of flood risk – over half the change on water, land, biodiversity, wasteplanning proposals that we objected to last management, flooding, air quality, health,year lacked appropriate assessment of flood emergency planning and how we monitor andrisk. Almost 12 per cent of the proposals we report on the state of the environment. Ourobjected to were approved contrary to our science programme is helping us develop risk-advice by local planning authorities (Figure based responses to these impacts across all4).17 In some areas water supplies are already our functions.almost fully used by the existing population.18 Figure 4 Development applications granted against Environment Agency advice 2003/04 Planned development sites Planned development sites that lie in areas that have flooded in the past Major development Minor development Source: Environment Agency Environment Agency The climate is changing The issue 06
  10. 10. Find out more about i renewable energy Use less energy Cut carbon emissions 19 ODPM (2004c) In 2004 we organised and took part in 20 ODPM (2004c) ‘Exercise Triton 04’ with more than 60 other The Thames Gateway organisations to test how well we would all respond to, and cope with, a national-scale Climate change presents a particular challenge to the Thames Gateway.19 Much of flooding event. Improvements since the 1998 the area is in the floodplain of the Thames Estuary and – as in the rest of south east and 2000 floods were recognised. Valuable England – the balance of water demand and supply is already fragile. Successful lessons were identified that will be followed planning for the extra 120,000 homes planned to be built by 2016 20 needs to ensure through with action plans for all the that the development minimises both extra demand for water and flood risk. We are organisations involved to further strengthen working with organisations such as the Thames Gateway London Partnership to the nation’s capability to deal with major flooding events. ensure that this is the case. We have set up the Thames Estuary 2100 project, which will produce a flood risk management strategy for the estuary for the next 100 years. This will balance the need for existing and new development with the challenge of Make buildings more i climate proof by flood- proofing (e.g. raising floor rising sea levels and storm surges caused by climate change. We are working with partners in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany on some of the future challenges. With all partners working together, the Gateway can be sustainable. The area is too height) and incorporating water important to miss this opportunity. efficiency measures housing/guidance/07 Environment Agency The climate is changing The issue
  11. 11. How the Environment Agency fits inWe consider climate change in everything we do and have a major rolein both limiting the scale of climate change by addressing its causes,and limiting its impact by adapting to change.Addressing the causes: Limiting the impact by adapting: • We regulate and protect fisheries and 21 promote recreation and navigation. See www.environment-• Over 40 per cent of the carbon dioxide • We license water use, balancing the 444217/444663/298441/ released in the UK comes from various demands for drinking, for • We are one of the organisations involved for details about pollution industries that we regulate. We consider industry and for the environment. in protecting and managing the marine prevention and control (PPC) their energy use and limit releases of environment. permitting • We are the largest flood risk 22 See www.environment- pollutants.21 management authority in England and • We are building climate change into our 444217/590750/590838/55• We are running the EU Emissions Trading Wales, responsible for 36,000 km of catchment-scale plans for the Water 6574/ for details about the Scheme (ETS) in England and Wales.22 flood defences along rivers and coast. Framework Directive, which will allow us EU ETS to tackle its impacts on water, land and• We promote adoption of low carbon • We provide a 24-hour flood forecasting biodiversity in an all-embracing way. technologies and support the Carbon and warning service, raise public Trust and Energy Saving Trust. We only awareness and promote uptake of • We operate monitoring and surveillance use renewable energy in our 2,000 sites Kitemarked flood-proofing measures. programmes to improve our and facilities. understanding of climate change. • We advise planners and developers on• We will be working with a government- the flood risk of new developments. • We work with many other organisations, led multi-agency cross-sector such as central government, local • We protect wetland habitats and communication partnership to help councils, planning authorities and the species. people, industry and businesses emergency services. We are involved in understand how serious the situation is • We aim to prevent or reduce the risk of all of the regional climate change and what action can be taken. pollution wherever possible, and to partnerships, supporting their work to ensure that it gets cleaned up if develop and promote the need for pollution occurs. adaptation responses. Environment Agency The climate is changing The issue 08
  12. 12. Putting a price on climate change It will be expensive to build resilience to climate change. Reducing the risk of tidal and river flooding already costs us £0.4 billion a year. We estimate that over the next 80 years the • 1998 – Easter floods led to the evacuation The Association of British Insurers (ABI) 23 Foresight Flooding 2004 (see www.environment- cost of engineered flood defences to meet the of 1,500 people from their homes, and a estimates that the increased cost to demands of climate change in England and cost to the insurance industry of around households due to extreme weather events flood/763964/) Wales will be £22 to £75 billion. £500 million. will be up to 4 per cent extra each year.26 24 Association of British Insurers (ABI) (2004a) The things we own are increasing in value, so 25 Data provided by ABI, 2005 It is worth doing. Flood damage already costs • 2000 – Heavy autumn rainfall led to 10,000 we have more to lose. 26 ABI (2004b) about £1 billion a year and our flood risk flooded properties, and nearly £1 billion in management prevents further yearly damages insurance claims. of £3.4 billion. But we can’t defend • 2003 – Soaring temperatures combined Insurance may get more i everywhere. Damage costs from flooding are with low rainfall doubled the previous year’s predicted to be as much as £25 billion under a insurance claims for subsidence to expensive for everyone. worst-case scenario in the 2080s.23 The ABI agree it is time £390 million. Since 1998 the cost of repairing the damage • 2004 – Torrential rain and flash flooding to bring planning for climate from extreme weather events and floods has across Britain cost over £300 million in the change into the mainstream of increased by 60 per cent.24 first nine months alone.25 business life. Environment Agency The climate is changing The issue
  13. 13. Living in thetwenty-first century‘It’s the extreme weather and climate events that will havesome of the most severe impacts on human society as theclimate changes.’Jerry Meehl, US National Center for Atmospheric ResearchIn the following sections, we look at the conditions manypeople have already experienced this century. While theseindividual events cannot be attributed to climate change now,they are conditions that we expect to become more commonas the climate changes. Environment Agency The climate is changing Living in the twenty-first century 10
  14. 14. Too much rain This century has started with the third wettest year since records began in 1766.28 In autumn 2000 some places flooded for the first time in decades. Torrential rain in August 2004 caused some of the worst flood events ever recorded in Britain. Summer flooding Check out our Flood i At the end of July 2002 rail services between 27 UKCIP (2002a) 28 Met Office data Harrogate and Leeds were affected by severe Warning service online On the whole, we expect that summers will be 29 Hydrographic information – flooding. In August 2002, in Yorkshire, the 2002 (see drier.27 But when it does rain, it will probably and do something to ih/nrfa/monthly_summaries/ River Wharfe exceeded its previous August rain harder. Parched soils are unable to absorb 2002/08/summary.html) flow maximum in a 47-year record and Filey protect yourself if your home is 30 North Cornwall District heavy rain fast enough, resulting in localised, experienced ‘the worst flooding in living at risk. Council (2004) but severe, flooding. 31 Catovsky/ ABI (2004) memory’. In the same month, there were 32 Defra, Thames Water, In 2000 the May bank holiday was washed out localised floods in the London area,29 with www.environment- Environment Agency, Greater London Authority and Ofwat as rivers burst their banks in south east some places receiving 60 mm of rain in just England, causing local flooding. Unusually one hour. The rail network was badly severe summer rain in June 2000 caused disrupted. 1,000 homes to be flooded across Yorkshire Heavy rain and flash flooding hit the headlines and County Durham. In August of the same again in summer 2004. At the beginning of year, a tornado rained a cloudburst of fish on August, flash floods devastated Boscastle in the beach in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. north Cornwall. Lancashire was also badly affected. In Harrow, an hour of heavy rain submerged roads under 18 cm of floodwater.11 Environment Agency The climate is changing Living in the twenty-first century
  15. 15. Flood devastates village – Boscastle The London storm sewage problemOn the high ground around Boscastle, 196 mm of rain fell in just four London’s Victorian sewerage system is easily overloaded during storms.hours on 16 August 2004. The local topography channelled the rainfall Properties can be flooded and large amounts of raw sewage releasedinto the River Valency, which broke its banks, and three metre high into the tidal section of the River Thames. The ecological consequencesfloodwater rushed through the village devastating everything in its can be severe. In August 2004 heavy rainfall led to appallingpath. Nearby Crackington Haven, Canworthy Water, Helebridge and Bude pollution events that killed tens of thousands of fish, left sewagewere also hit. One hundred properties in the area were flooded, debris and a foul smell along the foreshore, and significantly increasedhundreds of people were evacuated from their homes, and over a E. coli levels in the river.hundred people were plucked from roofs, trees and vehicles in the • Every year 12 million tonnes of untreated sewage enter thelargest peacetime rescue in the history of mainland Britain. Trees were river because of storm overflows.uprooted and four bridges were washed away. Four buildings collapsedor had to be demolished and at least 70 cars were washed into the sea. • A single storm can create 3 million tonnes of sewage overflow.Over 50 of our staff helped to handle the crisis. • About 10,000 tonnes of sewage solids are discharged to the river each year. The solids include paper, faecal matter, sanitary items,The repair bill for this single event will be in the millions. Infrastructure condoms and hypodermic needles.damage alone could cost £2 million.30 Insured damage to buildings and • These discharges occur 50–60 times per is estimated at £4–6 million, with a further £5–10 million inbusiness interruption.31 Estimates of uninsured losses to businesses and These problems are the result of a lack of capacity within London’sindividuals have not yet been recorded. sewer network, and a solution to the problem is being developed by the Thames Tideway Strategic Partnership.32 It will needFlood defences can be breached during extreme rainfall events. substantial investment.Permanent flood defences are not always suitable for reducing the riskfrom flash flooding. Instead, we need to make the best use of emergencyplans, flood warning schemes and advice campaigns, controls overdevelopment and temporary defences to reduce the risk from flooding. Environment Agency The climate is changing Living in the twenty-first century 12
  16. 16. Winters have become significantly wetter since records began in 1766 – an average increase equivalent to a month of extra rainfall. Figure 5 Flood levels in the River Wye at Erwood, Wales Winter flooding information and helpline service. Almost a Peaks over the threshold Four year moving average third of our staff were involved in dealing with Winters are becoming wetter and more rain is Overall trend the floods.36 falling in heavy downpours.33 Six of the seven Number of peaks per year over the threshold* rivers we use to indicate flooding show an At New Year 2003, 30 houses were flooded by increase in frequency of peak river levels (see high groundwater levels in the area around 9 Figure 5 for example). Upton in Hampshire. The Thames had its 8 highest flood since 1947 and many properties The autumn and winter floods of 2000 were 7 were flooded in Chertsey, Wraysbury and the worst in some areas for 270 years and surrounding places. 6 devastated the lives of thousands of people. In total, 700 places were hit and 10,000 In February 2004, Trefriw and Llanrwst (Conwy) 5 properties were flooded, some five times.34 were cut off, buildings were flooded in 60 cm 4 Significant areas of farmland were flooded of water and five schools were closed as 3 causing an estimated loss of up to £500 floodwaters poured off Snowdonia. Main million to the farming industry.35 Parts of the roads were cut off by associated landslides.37 2 M1, M3, M20, M23 and M25 were shut, and These villages were flooded again when the 1 railway services throughout Wales, southern, River Conwy burst its banks in the New Year 0 north east and south west England were flooding of 2005.38 1935 1945 1955 1965 1975 1985 1995 2005 disrupted. Sewerage systems in many areas Heavy rainfall in early January 2005 caused were overwhelmed, causing up to 30 per cent extensive, and in places repeated, flooding *The level exceeded on average between 1980 and 2000 of all property floods. Over half a million across the north of England. High spring tides Source: Environment Agency people called our Floodline, our 24-hour13 Environment Agency The climate is changing Living in the twenty-first century
  17. 17. Saving the Severn Boats replace traffic In response to the devastating in New Year flooding, autumn 2000 floods, we are working January 2005 with the Department for Environment, In the second weekend of 2005, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), local Carlisle was hit by its worst flooding authorities and Severn Trent Water to since 1822. Almost 2,000 properties reduce flood risk along the length of were flooded in Carlisle when the the River Severn. We are looking at River Eden and its tributariesincreased the risk of flooding for many. The the causes of flooding, reviewing the 33 UKCIP (2002b) overtopped 8 km of flood defences, in 34 Environment Agency (2001a)worst affected area was Cumbria. Across the performance of existing flood 35 NFU press release, 5 JanuaryPennines, over a hundred properties were some places by more than a metre. defences and assessing the 2001flooded around the River Tyne and in the Thousands of people were evacuated 36 Environment Agency (2001b) effectiveness and viability of flood 37 BBC News 3 February 2004Yorkshire Dales. River levels on the upper Tyne from their homes and police and fire 38 BBC News 10 January 2005 management options for the next 50catchment at Stanhope and Haydon Bridge stations were flooded. (see the highest ever recorded. Nearby, years. We are also addressing wider 1/hi/wales/4159471.stm) Communications were severely 39 Environment Agency (2001b)11,000 properties in Hexham were without issues such as changes in land use, 40 Planning Policy Guidance 25 disrupted as the town was virtually (PPG25), section A7 (ODPMmains water for days as, in the midst of all the farming practice, new development cut off by floodwater. About 70,000 2004b)flooding, a water main was damaged. and urban drainage. properties experienced power cuts,We delivered 1,437 flood warnings and The benefits of this work have telephone lines were down and onlyprotected 280,000 homes from flooding in already been seen. New defences in one mobile phone operator was2000 alone.39 Many more may need protecting functioning. As well as the serious Worcester, Ironbridge, Bewdley andin the future. We expect flood flows to be 20 Shrewsbury saved about £20 million flooding in Carlisle, flooding occurredper cent higher by 2050.40 Just 15 cm of fast of damage and disruption to in the towns of Cockermouth,flowing water will knock adults off their feet,60 cm of water will float a car, and 90 cm of home and business owners during Keswick, Appleby and Kendal.floodwater in an average house can cause up flooding in 2004. Numerous isolated properties andto £30,000 of damage. villages also suffered flooding. Environment Agency The climate is changing Living in the twenty-first century 14
  18. 18. Winter storms and sea level rise As much as 65 per cent of all flood risk is from coastal and tidal flooding. Across England and Wales, over a million properties are already at risk. As storms and sea levels increase, more properties, businesses and people will be affected (Figure 6). Sea levels around the UK are now about threatening lives. Not all flooding will be Figure 6 Low-lying land in England and Wales 10 cm higher than they were in 1900.41 At the temporary; some places, such as Selsey in Height above current same time, the south east of England is Sussex, could become islands again if our sea level (metres) sinking at a rate of 15 to 20 cm a century.42 flood defences don’t keep pace with climate <1 And the average number of winter storms has change. Other areas, such as Essex, have 1-2 increased significantly, with the largest already lost vast areas of land under the sea. 2-3 increases in the south.43 New records for wind 3-4 We use the latest available technology to The Humber speeds in England and Wales were set by 4-5 monitor sea conditions 24 hours a day to 124 mph (200 km/hour) gusts at Rhoose >5 forecast coastal flooding and trigger the (South Glamorgan) in October 1989.44 For closure of tidal barriers. Clear warning some east coast locations, extreme sea levels systems will continue to be an essential (storm surges) could occur between 10 and element of flood risk management to enable 20 times more frequently by the 2080s than people to take action to protect themselves they do now.45 and their properties. In some cases prompt Coastal flooding such as that seen in Cornwall evacuation will also be necessary. at Looe, Penzance, Porthleven, Flushing and Falmouth on 27 October 2004 will become London increasingly common, damaging property and Selsey15 Environment Agency The climate is changing Living in the twenty-first century
  19. 19. The world’s largest movable flood barrier – the Thames Barrier – has been raised 55 times against tidal surges in the 20 years since it was built, half of which were in the last five years. 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Figure 7 Thames Barrier closures against tidal surges, 1983 to 2004 Source: Environment Agency = one raising of the Barrier Check if you are at risk of i London and the Thames Estuary Hull and the Humber Estuary 41 Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (see www. Canvey flooding by using our flood See also our sea level change Dagenham Island Hull risk maps. environmental indicator Westminster (www. environment- uk/yourenv/eff/natural_ Richmond Grimsby flood/ forces/sealevels/) 42 During the last glaciation, the mass of ice pushed the north Doncaster west of the UK down which in turn raised the south east. Foresight – a project to i Even though the ice sheets are long gone, the land is still produce a long-term vision rebounding – the north west is rising and the south east Selsey for the future of flood and sinking. This is called isostatic rebound Chichester coastal defence in the UK. 43 Met Office/Hadley Centre (2003) 44 Met Office: Extreme weather (see www.met- Bognor Regis tion/england/index.html and climate/uk/location/wales/in Selsey dex.html) 45 UKCIP (2002a and 2002b)© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Environment Agency,100026380, 2005. Environment Agency The climate is changing Living in the twenty-first century 16
  20. 20. A safe climate for Turning the tide for Hull industry? One of the highest tidal surges for four decades hit Hull in Large tracts of the north west’s January 2005. Water levels rose to about 90 cm above industry – including petrochemicals normal levels – about the same height that flooded the city and a nuclear power plant – are centre in 1969. But the city was saved from certain flooding vulnerable to tidal surges and river by our tidal barrier, which protected about 1,800 properties flooding because they are only just and saved £250 million worth of damages. above the existing high tide sea level Sea level rises, storm surges and intense erosion are a or located on flat, low-lying land. threat to the whole Humber Estuary. Over 300,000 people Set up your flood plan – i In 2001, high tides and storms live on the Humber’s floodplain, protected by flood flooded Bromborough sewage defences. After the Thames, the Humber has the greatest more businesses flood treatment works on Merseyside, concentration of people and property on a tidal floodplain in than burn down, yet most shorting out all power and damaging the UK. businesses have no flood plans in the infrastructure. It was several place. We are now putting into effect the Humber Estuary Shoreline weeks before the plant was fully Management Plan to combat the effects of climate change. operational again. Fortunately, In Hull, existing defences will be heightened. At Alkborough although the potential for subjects/flood/ some embankments will be set back, allowing the sea to environmental damage was high the reclaim about 1,000 hectares of farmland; defending the actual impact was not significant. In shore by neutralising the energy of waves and creating an 2000, floodwaters from the River intertidal habitat. As part of the project the Environment Gowy reached a new part of the Gowy Agency, English Nature, the Countryside Agency and North landfill site (near Chester) and mixed Lincolnshire Council are creating 440 hectares of habitat with contaminated leachate. This cost where the Rivers Ouse and Trent meet to replace ‘coastal the company about £50,000 to tanker squeeze’ losses in the inner part of the estuary and tidal away and dispose of safely. A major washlands. There will be opportunities for countryside programme of works has now been leisure activities that will connect with the Waters’ Edge area completed to reduce the risk of this at Barton upon Humber. happening again.17 Environment Agency The climate is changing Living in the twenty-first century
  21. 21. Longer, drier, hotter summersBy 2080 the high temperatures experienced in 2003 mayseem cool. High summer temperatures could cause ill healthand even death, and poorer air and water quality. We thinksummers will also be drier, and what rain does fall is likely tobe in intense bursts. Droughts will be more frequent.Water supply Periods of drought spanning more than one season or one year present a serious threat toOctober is the start of the annual ‘water year’, water supplies. South east England is underusually marked by the onset of heavier rain. greater pressure than most places; 8 millionAs the dry weather of 2003 continued late people already live there and moreinto October, our concerns about water supply development is planned. It is one of the driestincreased in a number of areas. Soil moisture regions in the UK, with less available water perlevels were extremely low until early person than Spain (265,000 compared toNovember. This delayed the replenishment of 2,711,000 litres per person).47 Severalgroundwater stores, which provide 80 per reservoir proposals are being explored in thecent of water supplies in some places, and south and south east of England. Southernlevels across England and Wales fell by as Water, South East Water, Portsmouth Watermuch as 35 per cent. Record lows for river and Mid Kent Water may have to build fourflows were recorded across the country from new reservoirs by 2020 to maintain reliablethe Stour in Dorset to the Yscir in South Wales water supplies, including the first ever Figure 8 In October 2004 water levels were still low in some places evenand the Soar in the Midlands. The River after a wet year reservoir in Hampshire. We will be assessingRother in the south east was flowing at just these plans and ensuring that existing water River levels Groundwater levelseight per cent of average. By October 2004, supplies are used efficiently. Above average (>150%) Above averageand despite a wetter than average summer,46 Average or above (100-150%) Below averagewater levels were still low in some areas Below average (50-99%) Aquifers(Figure 8). 46 Rivers Met Office: 2004 weather (see 47 World Resources Institute 2004 (see Source: Environment Agency and UK Groundwater Forum, BGS and NERC Environment Agency The climate is changing Living in the twenty-first century 18
  22. 22. Use less water i Figure 9 Impact of river flow levels on chemical river Higher temperatures 48 Met Office News Release quality, Anglian Region 2004: Another warm year www.environment- Six of the ten warmest years on the UK record (see Average river quality Mean annual flow corporate/pressoffice/2004/ were between 1995 and 2004. Globally, 2003 pr20041216.html) was the second warmest year and 2004 the 49 Met Office News Release subjects/waterres/ fourth since records began in 1861.48 In 2003: Great weather events – Percentage of long-term average flow B good 250 Temperature records fall (see Europe, the August heat wave was the hottest corporate/pressoffice/anniver 200 for 500 years. In the UK, March to August Water quality sary/records2003.html) River quality grade 2003 were the warmest on record49 and 50 Met Office website August We are concerned that lower river flows and 150 included the country’s hottest temperature 2003 – Hot spell (see groundwater levels will mean poorer water C ever of 38.5°C at Brogdale in Kent.50 Even uk/interesting/aug03maxtem quality. We have seen higher nitrate levels in 100 2004, which many people perceived as a ps.html) 51 National Statistics (2003) groundwater in drought years and poorer river disappointing summer, was the UK’s fifth quality when flows are low in our Anglian 50 warmest yet. Region (Figure 9). This has impacts on wildlife D fair Temperatures in 2003 were warmer than the and habitats, the cost of cleaning water for 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 long-term average by just over 1°C. This is drinking, and the amenity value of our well below predictions for 2080, but in the countryside. short time between 4 and 13 August 2003 Source: Environment Agency more than two thousand people died in the UK because of the heat.51 By 2080, the UK is three times more likely to experience these conditions and the hottest days could be in the mid 40s.19 Environment Agency The climate is changing Living in the twenty-first century
  23. 23. Feeling the heat inthe cityCentral London can be up to 7°C Air pollution Figure 10 Air pollution in the UK 52 Wilby (2003)warmer than the surrounding 53 National Statistics (2003)countryside, especially at night, The heat wave in summer 2003 caused the Rural sites Urban sites 54 London Climate Change Partnership (2002)because of the heat island effect.52 poorest air quality for years (Figure 10). High Average number of days when air pollution is moderate 55 Kent (2003) levels of pollution were measured on 10 or higher 56 Targa (2004) 57 Lee (1993)In August 2003, temperatures on the consecutive days in August, and ozone 70 58 Donaldson et al. (2001)Underground were so severe that the pollution reached its highest peak for more 59 Stedman (2004)London Mayor offered a reward of than a decade in London.55 High levels of 60£10,000 to anyone who could devise pollution were again recorded in late 50 July/early August 2004 as temperatures rosean effective cooling solution. Parts of to about 30°C.56 40the M25 melted. The London Eye hadto be closed because the pods were Hot, dry summers favour the production of air 30too hot. And more than a thousand pollutants like ground-level ozone, volatile 20 organic compounds and fine particles. Anpeople in London died in the heat.53 increase of just 1°C in summer has been 10By 2080 temperatures in London are linked with a 14 per cent increase in ground- 0predicted to be ‘outside comfort level ozone.57 Poor air quality can lead to 1987 1991 1995 1999 2003 significant respiratory problems for sensitivelevels’ for people at work for 23 per people58 and was responsible for up to 38 percent of working hours.54 Source: NETCEN on behalf of Defra cent of the deaths caused by the August 2003 heat wave.59 Environment Agency The climate is changing Living in the twenty-first century 20