Why are UK floods on the rise?

Open navigator

1. Devastating deluge

In early 2014, the UK suffered its worst rainfall in at least 248 years. Thousands of homes were flooded, causing great distress and an estimated £1.1bn in damage.

And this wasn't a one-off. The Met Office predicts global warming could make heavy summer downpours five times more likely by the end of the century.

But it isn't just the changing climate that is causing concern. The way that we are transforming the environment around us, is leaving us much more exposed to the risks posed by large amounts of rain.

2. CLICKABLE: How we are to blame

Click on the image to find out how human activity has made flooding more likely.

This content uses functionality that is not supported by your current browser. Consider upgrading your browser.

3. Learning to live with floods

We need to find ways to limit the impact of floods. Which of these measures do experts believe could work?

Debris dams

Recreating woody features in a river in the uplands, slowing its flow downstream.

You selected

Debris dams

Useful if done correctly

This could help prevent excess rainwater gushing down towards homes. But careful models of water flow are needed to determine where to position the wood.

Physical defences

Building tall barriers along a riverbank to prevent it overflowing.

You selected

Physical defences

Not recommended

While this protects houses in the immediate area, it forces water to flow very quickly along the river and increases the risk of overflow further downstream.

Urban water basins

Creating grassy areas to absorb rainwater. Some could hold excess water if a nearby river overflows.

You selected

Urban water basins

Works well

This replaces the soil we’ve paved over in our concrete cities, as well as the natural water basins on a river’s floodplain.

Dredging

Removing sediment from a river to increase its capacity and help water drain more quickly.

You selected

Dredging

Sometimes helpful

Dredging has limited ability to prevent floodwater rising. In some cases it could help the water drain away faster, but might increase flooding risk downstream.