Prof Ed Hawkins (University of Reading)
Exactly 120 years ago, in June 1903, there was flooding across many parts of south-east England. A few months earlier a severe windstorm known as Storm Ulysses hit the UK & Ireland causing extensive damage. And, a few months later, in October 1903, the UK experienced what is still its wettest month on record. I will discuss what can still be learnt from these extreme weather events, and how can they be used to inform our understanding of present-day weather and climate risks. Combining newly rescued historical weather observations with modern reanalysis techniques allows us to plausibly reconstruct the atmospheric circulation during these extreme events and understand why their impacts were so severe. We have also ‘translated’ these events into a modern climatic context to understand how their impacts might be different in a warmer world. This process establishes an invaluable end-to-end tool to improve assessments of risks from extreme weather events and to potentially attribute changes in their consequences due to now living in a warmer world.