Climate change-storms 'link' probed

The recent storms that have battered Britain could be linked to climate change, leading Met Office scientists have warned.

An open letter, printed in The Times today and signed by weather experts, including the Met Office's chief scientist Dame Julia Slingo, says the risk of flooding is increasing with global warming.

The letter states: "We have looked at the potential influence of climate change and all the evidence from observations, theory and models which show that a warming world leads to more intense daily and hourly rainfall.

"When we add rising sea levels, then the risk to our communities from serious flooding and coastal inundation are increasing with climate change."

However, they warned that the link between recent flooding and climate change was not "definitive" and further research was needed.

They said: "What we have not said, because that is a matter of ongoing research, is that the recent storms are definitively linked to climate change.

"The UK has always been buffeted by Atlantic storms and it is reasonable to expect occasional extremes."

The letter is also signed by Professor Stephen Belcher, a leading climate change expert from the Met Office Hadley Centre, Professor Adam Scaife, who studies monthly and decadal climate change, and Dr Mark McCarthy from the National Climate information Centre.

The comments come in the wake of a political row over the extent climate change is to blame for the heavy flooding which have inundated large parts of Britain over recent months.