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Study finds that the floods in 2009 and 2015 in Cumbria were the worst for centuries

Posted: 22/05/19

A ground breaking analysis of lake sediment in Cumbria has shown that the floods of 2009 and 2015 in the north-west England were the worst for more than 550 years.  The floods are being increasingly linked as evidence of the UK’s vulnerability to climate change.

In 2015, more than 50,000 homes in Cumbria were flooded or had severe damage from flooding. Thousands of people were displaced in 2009 which took years to be resolved.

The study took place at Bassenthwaite Lake in Cumbria and researchers studied the distinct layer of coarse sediment left behind after a flood event at the bottom of the lake. Flooding leaves much coarser sediment than normal deposits, because it washes in large amounts of material from the surrounding hills and streams. That left researchers with a much easier task of sorting out which layers came from particular events.

It is believed that this is the first time that an analysis of this kind has been undertaken to gauge recent flooding against historic norms in the UK. The same technique could be used again in the future and elsewhere to provide an insight into the wider picture of flooding in Britain in recent years.

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