Winter floods in Britain are connected to atmospheric rivers

David A. Lavers, Richard P. Allan, Eric F. Wood, Gabriele Villarini, David J. Brayshaw, Andrew J. Wade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

289 Scopus citations


Damage from flooding in the winter and fall seasons has been widespread in the United Kingdom (UK) and Western Europe over recent decades. Here we show that winter flood events in the UK are connected to Atmospheric Rivers (ARs), narrow ribbons along which a large flux of moisture is transported from the subtropics to the mid-latitudes. Combining river flow records with rainfall measurements, satellite data and model simulations, we demonstrate that ARs occur simultaneously with the 10 largest winter flood events since 1970 in a range of British river basins, suggesting that ARs are persistently critical in explaining extreme winter flooding in the UK. Understanding the physical processes that determine the persistence of AR events will be of importance in assessing the risk of future flooding over north-western Europe and other mid-latitude regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL23803
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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