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Flooding, Entertainment and the UK CCRA

The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) was released by the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs in 2012, and is the UK Government’s official assessment of the risks posed to the UK as the climate changes. The report is divided into various sections, and we have evaluated what risk changes in these areas might mean to organisations in the entertainment industry, each with its own page:

In some cases we have used other documents in addition to the CCRA, to provide more detailed information, or a more global perspective. You are reading the page on flooding.


What's the risk from flooding?


The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (Defra, Jan 2012), presents flooding as a key risk to the UK as a result of a warming climate. This is often misunderstood as being an effect of melting ice in the polar region. While this would undoubtedly have an impact on overall ocean levels, what has been generally taken into account, both by Defra, and in the past by the IPCC is in fact the thermal expansion of the oceans. Basically speaking, like most materials, water expands when warmer, and therefore occupies a greater volume. Since the oceans cannot expand downwards, they will rise as temperature increases. Issues also arise from potentially increased river flows during projected higher winter rainfall. 


How much will sea level rise?


Nobody really knows. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2007 Fourth Assessment Report projected a rise of between 0.23m and 0.47m, the upper end of which is generally the figure favoured by the Met Office in its '4 degree' scenario. Any rises would not be equally distributed around the globe. 


How much flooding will we see, and who will be affected?


On a global scale, there is potential for there to be large scale effects, especially as many large population centres can be found living at or only marginally above sea level. These communities can often be some of the poorest, who rely on the sea for food and employment (such as in Bangladesh). In the UK, it goes without saying that, as an island, we are vulnerable to any changes in sea level. 1 in 10 year flooding events that currently inundate 200,000 hectares of agricultural land are expected to inundate 400,000 hectares as soon as the 2050s, and 500,000 hectares by the 2080s. 

The CCRA asserts that by the 2050s, between 1.3m and 3.6m people in the UK will be exposed to a significant likelihood of flooding, rising to between 1.7m and 5m by the 2080s.


How are entertainment venues at risk?


In the CCRA  flooding is identified as the key risk to UK businesses. This could manifest itself in many ways - from the more literal events that may affect property, to the risk to energy supplies from the inundation of generating facilities. Properties with a significant likelihood of flooding will rise from the current 560,000 to between 770,000 and 1.3m by the 2050s, and between 980,000 and 1.5m by the 2080s. Properties perceived to be far away from the sea are also at risk, as the rivers and watercourses (especially those that are covered over, such as in London) that feed into tidal areas could 'back up' during periods of high tide - at London Bridge, high tide can often be 7.9 metres above sea level. 


The map below allows you to look at areas of the UK vulnerable to sea level rise (not increased river flows). It is by no means a definitive guide, as sea level is something of a curious beast (it's not the same everywhere, counter-intuitively - the UK's sea level is based on that at Newlyn in Cornwall), but gives a good indication of the areas most at risk.


As far as flooding from rivers goes, the best information available, although not strictly climate change-linked, is the Environment Agency flood risk map. It will allow you to see just how close you may be to flood plains, or risky rivers and reservoirs. 


What should I do about it?


Plan. Flood risk should be included in your risk assessments, as well as be a topic for discussion in any sustainability groups you may have. Identify the current and future flood risks in your area, and plan to mitigate the impact flooding may have on your future operations. This could also include choice of sites for the storage of property (e.g. costumes, sets, books, papers, etc.), as well as transport issues for both you (e.g. tours) and your audiences. Keep up with latest government guidance and information, including that from local councils.


If you have had any experiences which you would like to share,please use the comment box below. 



UK Climate Change Risk Assessment, DEFRA, 2012

Met Office Climate Change Guide, Met Office, 2011

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report:Climate Change 2007, IPCC, 2007


Last updated 31 January 2012


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Comment by Tim Atkinson on February 7, 2013 at 13:50
BBC News - Government announces work on 93 new flood defence schemes.... more here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21364056

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