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Met Office blames climate change for flurry of storms that have battered Britain
Climate change "almost certainly" lies behind the flurry of storms that have ravaged Britain this winter, it has been claimed.
The Met Office's chief scientist, Dame Julia Slingo, said "all the evidence" pointed to the phenomenon playing a role.
She also delivered a grim warning that the country should prepare for similar events in future.
Her comments came as the latest wave of storms crashed into southern England - and back up David Cameron's remark last month that he "very much suspects" a connection.
The Met Office blames persistent rainfall over Indonesia and the tropical West Pacific for triggering the weather system.
Dame Julia said while none of the individual storms had been exceptional, the "clustering and persistence" were extremely unusual.
"We have seen exceptional weather," she said.
"We cannot say it's unprecedented, but it is certainly exceptional.
"Is it consistent with what we might expect from climate change?
"As yet there can be no definitive answer on the particular events that we have seen this winter, but if we look at the broader base of evidence then we see things that support the premise that climate change has been making a contribution."
Recent studies have suggested storms are developing a more southerly track, and that has been "typical" of the weather patterns here over the winter.
"One of the most unusual aspects of the winter's weather has been the southerly track of the storms," Dame Julia said.
"We expect them to go well north of Scotland.
"They have been slamming into the southern part of Britain.
Changing climate: The Met Office's Dame Julia Slingo
"We also know that the subtropical, tropical Atlantic is now quite a lot warmer than it was 50 years ago.
"The air that enters this storm system comes from that part of the Atlantic where it is obviously going to be warmer and carrying more moisture.
"This is just basic physics.
"We also now have strong evidence that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense.
"That is emerging in the UK records, and it is seen very definitely around the world in other countries like India and China.
"There is indeed as far as I can see no evidence to counter the premise that a warmer world will lead to more intense daily and hourly heavy rain events."
Dame Julia said sea levels were expected to rise by a foot over time, causing more problems for those trying to deal with flooding.
"That might not sound a lot, but when you are looking at storm surges, when you are looking at moving water from the Somerset Levels out to sea, it does matter," she added.
"In a nutshell, while there is no definitive answer for the current weather patterns that we have seen, all the evidence suggests that climate change has a role to play in it."
Dame Julia said that detecting when and how such storms developed would become increasingly important.
"We need to very urgently deliver much more robust detection of changes in storminess and daily and hourly rates," she said.
"We have the data.
"We just need to get on and perform the analysis."
The Met Office is also working on modelling to establish the likelihood of the current weather patterns occurring without any impact from climate change.