As we near the end of another year when flooding and the fear of flooding once again troubled Alyth, there’s are salutary warnings from experts about what climate change could mean for the town.
The Met Office and the BBC have published a website where anyone can look up how average temperatures and rainfall are likely to change due to global warming:
If you enter your Alyth postcode, you’ll see what the latest scientific modelling says about what the average temperatures and rainfall could be here in summer and in winter, depending on how much the average global temperature rises.
The prediction that really jumps out is not the average increase over a season, but how much rain could fall in one day. On the wettest summer day of the last 30 years in Alyth, there was 53mm of rain recorded. The climate models predict that if global temperatures rise by just 2 degrees C, the wettest day could see about 60mm – an increase of 13%. If temperatures rise by 4 degrees C, then about 70mm could fall in just one day – a 31% increase.
What we don’t know yet is what this might mean for the level of the Burn as it flows through the town. An increase of 7mm might not sound like much, but remember that’s across every square metre of the catchment area – what happens when it’s all funnelled into the Burn flowing down through the Den and into the town? And what if the increase is not 7mm, but 17mm?
There is research under way just now correlating local rainfall records with data from the RiverTrack monitors which might point to actions needed now to prepare Alyth for the increased risks. What’s becoming clear is that as a community we need to start thinking very carefully about what climate change could mean for us.