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Professor Mark Macklin, Earth Sciences Institute
"We are trying to predict what the pattern of flooding will be"
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The BBC's Steve Jones
"A new generation of scientists which could end the misery of flooding"
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Thursday, 14 December, 2000, 19:12 GMT
Floods go on the syllabus
Aberystwyth is an ideal location to study water
Undergraduates on a degree course in water science are to study the problems caused by the recent floods and how to deal with a wetter climate in the future.

The three-year bachelor of science course, due to start next September at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth, will examine the problems of increasing flood damage and changing land use in the UK.

A university spokesman said that it would "focus on the issues brought about by the changes in weather patterns we are experiencing."

"It also focuses on the scientific study of water in the environment, directed towards improved management of water quantity and quality," he said.

Aberystwyth is strategically placed near to the headwaters of major British rivers

Dr John Pomeroy
The programme co-ordinator in the university's Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, Dr John Pomeroy, believes Aberystwyth is an ideal location to study water.

"Besides its coastal location, Aberystwyth is strategically placed near to the headwaters of major British rivers such as the Severn and Wye in the Cambrian Mountains," he said.

The Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia predicts global sea level rises of between 12cm and 67cm by 2050.

Parts of East Anglia as well as parts of the south east of England could end up under water.

The threat of rising sea levels is compounded by the fact that the UK is gradually tilting. The south east of the country is sinking while the north west is rising.

With holding back the sea a notoriously expensive business, eventually some low-lying coastal areas will probably have to be abandoned.

Climate change

The recent floods and storms in the UK could also be part of a pattern of more extreme weather occurring as a result of climate change.

But the unit's Prof Phil Jones stresses that, as a single event, the floods do not have much significance. Instead long term trends have to be studied.

Long-term studies so far had suggested that winter precipitation could increase by more than 20% by the 2080s.

By contrast, in summer, central and southern parts of the UK could be much drier than now, with up to 18% less rainfall.

Northern England and Scotland were likely to experience the double whammy of both wetter summers and wetter winters.

With hotter weather, the demand for water would increase significantly - as would evaporation from reservoirs.

As a result droughts, already a problem in the south during the summers, were likely to become more severe.

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21 Nov 00 | UK Politics
UK floods 'a climate alarm call'
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