UK-China innovation reveals current risk of record-breaking weather and climate extremes to inform resilience

Ground-breaking climate science developed in collaboration between leading UK and Chinese experts has been used for the first time in the UK’s National Flooding Resilience Review.

As part of the review, the Met Office was asked to estimate the potential likelihood and severity of record-breaking rainfall over the UK for the next 10 years.

The risk of extreme rainfall in the UK within the current climate was examined using an innovative new method. Using high resolution modelling, they were able to simulate extreme rainfall events not seen in real life, but might be possible in the future.

These scenarios enabled the Environment Agency to stress test their extreme flood outline impact assessments with important implications for policy makers and contingency planners.

This work finds that one or more monthly record rainfall events is likely in winter over the next decade across the UK, similar to the record-breaking rainfall seen in recent winters (2013-14 and 2015-16).

The innovation has also been used in China to show that record-breaking warm summer months in the Yangtze river basin could happen at any time. Applying this method to food security reveals that the chance of severe water stress leading to maize yield loss is higher than previously thought in both China and other major maize growing regions around the world.

This work was developed in collaboration with Chinese scientists under the Climate Science for Service Partnership China (CSSP China) project. CSSP China is supported by the Newton Fund and delivered through the Met Office. The programme combines UK and Chinese expertise and capability to develop the science needed to build services that support climate-resilient economic development and social welfare.

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