FLOODING: Scientists look to social media to play its part in flood protection

PLANS: Dr Patrick McSharry

MORE RAIN: Prof Myles Allen

First published in News

OXFORDSHIRE should be prepared for more spells of flooding in the future.

Experts believe Oxfordshire and the rest of the country could see further severe flooding in the years to come as climate change, over-development and other factors take their toll.

It comes as Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons last week that he “suspected” global warming was linked to the bad weather.

Now two scientists at the University of Oxford have warned flooding could become more frequent.

Patrick McSharry, head of catastrophe risk financing at the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford, is looking at ways plans can be put in place in the future.

Dr McSharry said: “When you look at extreme weather and the cost-benefit of schemes, it can be very hard.

“By definition, extreme weather doesn’t happen very often, so it is not necessarily cost effective to spend a lot of money on defences.

“But if something is happening every year for four years, for example, then it can be more justified.”

And he said social media could play a part in the future.

“We are working on crowd-sourcing projects and big data about how we can deal with this in the future,” he said.

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“If you look at Twitter, for example, over the past week, so much has been put on the social media site about where floods were happening most and you can use that information.

“When events like this are analysed afterwards, you often have to rely on people having the time to answer questions, but if you look at it in real time it can be more accurate.

“Everyone is always trying to find someone to blame, and if you want to go down that line, then in some ways we are all to blame for increasing CO2 emissions.”

Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at the School of Geography and Environment and the Department of Physics at the university, said climate change was affecting the weather and the likelihood of flooding.

He said: “For once, I agree with David Cameron about science. But lots of rain isn’t the only thing which causes floods. River management can have much more impact on flood risk rather than the subtle signals from climate change.

“I do not think we are getting more storms. However, the amount of rain falling is slightly more, which, combined, can have an impact.”

Prof Allen said the public could help research into weather by visiting weatherathome.org

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