UK faces sharp rise in wind storms and higher bills as world warms

The UK is set to reap the whirlwind of climate changeClimate change is a lasting change in weather patterns over long periods of time. It can be a natural phenomena and and has occurred on Earth even before people inhabited it. Quite different is a current situation that is also referred to as climate change, anthropogenic climate change, or ... with the huge damage caused by windWind occurs due to different temperature levels in the atmosphere (troposphere) which are heated up by the sun. A typical example are the trade winds at the equator where the sun is most powerful. storms expected to increase sharply, according to new analysis.

Even the minimum global warmingHuman activities are adding greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, to the atmosphere, which are enhancing the natural greenhouse effect. While the natural greenhouse effect is keeping average temperature on earth at about +15°C, this enhanced greenhouse ... now expected – just 1.5C – is projected to raise the costCost: The consumption of resources such as labour time, capital, materials, fuels, etc. as the consequence of an action. In economics, all resources are valued at their opportunity cost, which is the value of the most valuable alternative use of the resources. Costs are defi ned in a variety of ... of windstorm destruction by more than a third in parts of the country. If climate change heats the world even further, broken roofs and damaged buildings are likely to increase by over 50% across a swathe of the nation.

The research shows all of the UK is on track to see rises in high winds except the south and south-west, with the greatest impact across the Midlands, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland. This is because the main storms that barrel in off the Atlantic are expected to move their track northwards as the planet warms, a phenomenon linked to the rapid melting being seen in the Arctic.

Wind damage map

FloodingThe overflowing of the normal confines of a stream or other body of water, or the accumulation of water over areas that are not normally submerged. Floods include river (fluvial) floods, flash floods, urban floods, pluvial floods, sewer floods, coastal floods, and glacial lake outburst floods ... is the most high-profile impact of climate change on the UK. But the overall cost of wind storms is actually higher, as a result of a much larger number of smaller incidents, and currently runs at an average of about £1bn a year. Extreme wind storms can occur, though, and in 1990 the Burns’ Day storm resulted in 47 deaths, as well as more than £2bn of insured damage and many millions more in damage to roadsA road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places, which has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by some conveyance, including a horse, cart, or motor vehicle. Roads consist of one, or sometimes two, roadways (British English: carriageways) each with one or more ..., power lines and uninsured properties.

The new work was commissioned by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which is concerned by the rising impacts of climate change on its customers, and was carried out by the consultancy Air Worldwide and the UK Met Office.

“It is absolutely a concern that we are going to be living in a world where overall there are higher wind storm losses,” said Matt Cullen, the ABI’s head of strategy. “That inevitably transfers through to insurers having to raise premiums and hold more capitalWealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person or organization or available for a purpose such as starting a company or investing.. We want to make sure we live in a world where risk is controlled and understandable and we can offer insuranceInsurance is the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another in exchange for payment. It is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss (Wikipedia, 2015) in a reliable and sensible way.”

Homes and buildings have lifespans of many decades and so work done now should make them better able to withstand the buffeting of severe winds, Cullen said. He said there was a concern that, while the risks of climate change are now being included in policies, there was little to ensure the protections needed are actually implemented.

The research used sophisticated Met Office climate modelsA mathematical presentation of climate based on physical, chemical, and biological properties. to examine how wind storms are likely to change in frequency and intensity with different levels of global warmingClimate change is a lasting change in weather patterns over long periods of time. It can be a natural phenomena and and has occurred on Earth even before people inhabited it. Quite different is a current situation that is also referred to as climate change, anthropogenic climate change, or .... “We will probably see an overall reduction in the number of storms, but an increase in the frequency of the most intense storms, and of course those are the ones that cause the [most] damage,” said Peter Sousounis, director of meteorology at Air Worldwide.

This data was then used to calculate the changes expected in the cost of damagedamage costs include the costs of damage from both an ecological and GDP perspective. The sum of gross value added, at purchasers’ prices, by all resident and non-resident producers in the economy, plus any taxes and minus any subsidies not included in the value of the products in a ... resulting from the stronger storms and the researchers found significant increases in most parts of the UK. This was not entirely unexpected, said Sousounis.

“We have seen enough results from catastrophe models to really not be surprised. Small changes in wind speedWind speed, or wind velocity, is a fundamental atmospheric rate. Wind speed is caused by air moving from high pressure to low pressure. Wind speed affects weather forecasting, aircraft and maritime operations, construction projects, growth and metabolism rate of many plant species, and countless ... can have a huge impact on losses,” he said. “Losses go up almost exponentially with increasing wind speed.”

Cullen said: “The likelihood of claims resulting from severe storms increasing in the future is something the insurance industry, and society, need to start preparing for now. Planners and builders should be aware of the need for more wind-resistant construction in specific areas of the country if claims are to be kept to a minimum and residents spared the distress and expense of higher levels of wind damage.”

The government’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, warned in 2016 that UK is poorly prepared for the inevitable impacts of global warming in coming decades, including floodsThe overflowing of the normal confines of a stream or other body of water, or the accumulation of water over areas that are not normally submerged. Floods include river (fluvial) floods, flash floods, urban floods, pluvial floods, sewer floods, coastal floods, and glacial lake outburst floods ..., deadly annual heatwavesA period of abnormally hot weather. Heat waves and warm spells have various and in some cases overlapping definitions (IPCC-SREX, 2014) and waterClimate change is expected to exacerbate current stresses on water resources from population growth and economic and land-use change, including urbanisation. On a regional scale, mountain snow pack, glaciers and small ice caps play a crucial role in freshwater availability. Widespread mass ... shortages. It also warned: “Any increases in maximum wind speeds with climate change experienced during storms would have significant implications for many infrastructure networks,” such as roads and railways and power and communication lines.

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