UK Sea Level Predictions to 2300

Source: UKMO UK Sea Level Projections

Beach hut owners on the North Kent Coast acquired their plots in the full knowledge that the once if fifty year storm would reduce their hut to broken planks. In fact the last weather disaster in the folk memory was the great flood of 1953.  In fact, the University of Brighton’s Screen Archives South East supplies some photographic evidence of the aftermath:

Hampton - Herne Bay 1953
Hampton – Herne Bay 1953, Screen Archive South East University of Brighton

The Met Office’s UK Sea Level Projections to 2300 reports that “at some locations the 1 in 10,000-year flood event of today could be expected more than once per year by 2300”. This seems to be bad news for beach hut owners; the once in fifty year storm might be expected every week!

These new sea level projections developed by the Met Office Hadley Centre have been published in a report by the Environment Agency. They show continued rise beyond 2100 under all climate change scenarios.

Sea Level Projections Sheerness (UKMO)
extended sea level projections London (Sheerness) – UKMO

Important news for all; not just beach huts at stake.

Are recent storms the consequence of climate change?

This is always a hot media topic when we experience severe weather.

Since weather is the result of the Earth system trying to breakdown temperature gradients between equator and pole, it does not follow that and overall increase in global temperature will lead to more vigorous weather.  Downhill skiers go fast because of the gradient they ski on, the same gradient could be found high in the mountains as well as near the valley bottom.

Sadly, the issue if complex and not understood fully yet.

There is no school maths correlation equation:

$latex y=mx+c &s=2$

with $latex y=storm\ intensity &s=2$ and $latex x=climate\ change &s=2$.

It was never going to be that simple yet byte size media demands such simplicity.  Contemplation of the equations of dynamics on the surface of a rotating sphere subject to chaotic dynamics make this unsurprising.  Computed calculations use curtailed floating point numbers, numerical weather prediction  cannot even work with true values for irrational numbers like $latex \pi &s=2$ and $latex e &s=2$ and the departure from such values could trigger a ‘butterfly effect’.  Sometimes a better maths and science education is required to understand how much we don’t know.

Recent work has been done to try and define the meaning of questions and develop a framework for answers:

http://www.nap.edu/catalog/21852/attribution-of-extreme-weather-events-in-the-context-of-climate-change

and

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40641-016-0033-y/fulltext.html

As an operational meteorologist and synoptic weather watchers, I warm to Shepherd’s ‘storyline’ approach to analysis.   Successful application in this area would lead to communicable cause and effect discussions.

The conclusion on the question posed, for now, is that we have low confidence in ‘Understanding of physical mechanisms that lead to changes in extremes as a result of
climate change’ as well as in sufficient ‘Quality/Length of the observational record’ to make the judgments anyway.

Anthropomorphic climate changes is accepted, but this particular question remains unanswered.