‘More water flowed out of UK rivers into the ocean during one day last month than ever before’ according to an article by New Scientist earlier this month. Based on the December hydrological summary for the UK by CEH, the article makes a significant connection between the record river flows and climate change-induced storms.
Three major storms – Desmond, Eva and Frank moved across Britain during the month of December, creating what CEH called “extraordinary” hydrological conditions. In particular storm Desmond, which occurred on December 5th established new UK rainfall records over 24-hour (341.4mm at Honister Pass, Cumbria) and 48-hour (405.0mm at Thirlmere, Cumbria) timeframes, and resulted in rivers across the UK discharging a third more water than the previous maximum, with the three largest flows ever registered in river flow records for England occurring on the Eden, Lune and Tyne.
The prolonged, intense rainfall across a large area of upland northern Britain contributed to substantial rainfall totals, and the already saturated soils from excessive November rainfall exacerbated the flooding seen in December. The widespread and repeated flooding created significant disruption to transport, utilities and agriculture and damage to thousands of homes.
The full report can be found on the CEH website.