The UK has experienced heavy floods over the past decade, which have affected thousands of people and caused millions of pounds worth of damage. The rainfall in June and July 2007 was about 20% higher than ever seen before in records that go back to 1879.
Although it is impossible to say this flooding was a result of climate change, some computer predictions say that we can expect to see more extreme weather events such as flooding in the future.
The Met Office however project that while heavy summer rains may become more frequent, summers are likely to be drier overall, especially in the south of Britain.
According to the Environment Agency, at present 2.3 million homes and 185,000 businesses are at risk of flooding in England and Wales representing property, land and assets to the value of over £200bn.
Adapting our homes to cope with flooding (particularly new homes) seems vital. Building them on higher ground, away from flood plains, with materials which can withstand heavy rainfall seems to be a good idea. However, the Environment Agencies throughout the UK are also looking into the problem of flood defences as there are many areas where these would be beneficial, although the financial implications of such schemes has to be considered.
For many people around the World, particularly in developing countries, the dangers associated with flooding are serious. Houses in many countries can be destroyed instantly as a result of heavy rain and flooding.
Flooding in areas like China and Bangladesh has left thousands homeless. Whether those floods are due to climate change is difficult to say, however they were examples of how some areas in the World struggle to cope with such situations.
Although heavier precipitation is expected with human-induced global warming, other factors play a vital role. Deforestation can have a big impact as upland forests can soak up a lot of water, but if humans are destroying these areas the water has more land it can run to, increasing the risk to homes and people. Wetlands can also soak up a lot of moisture, but so many are now drained to make room for development that their disappearance also hinders the flooding risk.
Coastal areas around the World will also be threatened as sea levels rise. Land used for agricultural purposes around the coast could be affected drastically which will obviously have a large impact on livelihoods. What will need to be weighed up in every corner of the globe. Is the impact rising sea levels and increased precipitation could have on them, what can be done to prevent this and how to adapt to it.
Sea level rises
Glaciers and ice sheets