Environment

This map shows how many times your local area has flooded since 2007

A new interactive map reveals how badly the UK has been hit by flooding over the past 15 years, with vital infrastructure regularly disrupted.

Flash floods have hit UK towns and cities 51 times over the past 15 years. (Image: © Ian S (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Flooding is one of the biggest climate threats faced by the UK, with increased rainfall and sea level rise likely leading to more floods near you in the future. 

Now, a new interactive map has revealed just how much the country has been affected by floods over the last 15 years as climate change has begun to take hold. 

The map shows that UK towns and cities have been hit by flash floods 51 times since 2007, causing major disruption to vital infrastructure like schools and hospitals.

It also shows which areas have been affected by other types of flooding such as coastal and surface flooding. 

Read on for all you need to know about how to use the map, and what risk of flooding you may face in the future.

How does the map work? 

Put together by think tank Bright Blue, the map used a form of artificial intelligence known as Natural Language Processing (NLP) to pull together news articles from thousands of local, regional and national newspapers published over the last 15 years.

The AI detected reports of flooding and compiled them, allowing researchers to piece together a fuller national picture of flooding in the UK since 2007.

Map: Bright Blue

You can navigate the map by scrolling or zooming in on it manually, or alternatively, you can use filters to look at the impact of specific storm events or the impact on specific types of infrastructure.

This means you can look specifically at the impact of flooding on schools or hospitals, or even for specific types of flooding such as flash flooding.

What does the analysis of flooding tell us? 

The data collected by researchers shows that flooding has caused major disruption in the UK over the past 15 years.

Aside from the homes of local residents being flooded, vital infrastructure has also been disrupted or damaged by flooding regularly since 2007.

At least 68 schools and 15 hospitals have been flooded during this period, while nine care homes and four retirement complexes have also been affected.

Since 2007 there have been at least 12 instances of electricity substations flooding, causing widespread power cuts and creating difficulties for emergency responders. 

The report accompanying the map warns that the UK is not adequately prepared for flooding in the future, with events set to increase as climate change accelerates.

Researchers pointed out that many urban drainage systems in flood-risk areas are failing to cope with heavy rainfall when it occurs, making floods even worse when they hit. 

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Why does climate change increase the risk of flooding?

A rising level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is increasing global temperatures.

This process, known as climate change, leads to rising sea levels due to melting ice as well as higher rainfall, as a warmer atmosphere holds and releases more water.

As a consequence, the risk of flooding is set to increase alongside the rise in global temperatures.

A number of other factors can also affect the severity of a flood, such as the quality or condition of flood barriers and the resilience of drainage systems, which are outdated in many parts of the UK.

Increased urbanisation can also put additional pressure on drainage systems. 

Which areas of the UK are worst-affected?

It’s difficult to say definitively which areas of the UK are “worst” affected by flooding as flooding comes in a variety of forms, including coastal and river flooding as well as flash flooding. 

One area badly affected by coastal flooding is Cornwall, due to its proximity to the sea, while Somerset – sitting below sea level – is badly affected by river flooding.

Cumbria is very badly affected by flash flooding, as one of the wettest areas of the UK.

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