UK flooding, Met Office, and all that – a map from 878AD tells us more than Slingo

bridgwater_somerset_UKThere’s quite a hullabaloo in the UK as the Met Office tries to link recent flooding in Bridgwater, Somerset with global warming, with Lord Lawson even calling Met Office Julia Slingo’s claims “absurd”. Josh even has a cartoon at Bishop Hill about it.

But, even more instructive than the row is this historic map that shows flooding would likely be a normal occurrence in Bridgwater in the county of Somerset, UK, located on this map at right.

Now look at this map from 878AD. “Swamp or Alluvium” anyone? The arrow notation is mine. This is the Danelaw map, from 878 AD, drawn in modern style:



People have been draining the area known as the Somerset Levels since before the Domesday Book in 1086AD. The Levels were frequently flooded by the sea during high tides, a problem that was not resolved until the sea defences were enhanced in the early 20th century.

So, is it any surprise that the water wants to follow the path of least resistance with gravity rather than it being a new feature of “climate change”?

h/t to Jabba The cat

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Ah Clem
February 13, 2014 12:57 pm

Does this mean sea level has been falling?

February 13, 2014 1:02 pm

Love it. 🙂

Les Johnson
February 13, 2014 1:03 pm

I find it amazing that people believe climate is all about these floods.
The rivers that drain the Somerset Levels are 8 to 10 feet above the farmland and houses. Pumps are needed to get the water up to the rivers.
Dredging is not a cure all. But in the local drainage areas, where they have dredged, the water levels are lower, and the floods last a shorter time. In the areas where the Environment Agency is reposnsible for dredging, the pumps don’t work, becuase they have silted off.
I find this report particularly offensive. The dredging was not done as it might have affected a local shellfish. And EU directives made it too expensive to dispose of the dredged silt.
Amazing stuff.
The American Revolution started for less; taxation without representation. I expect that the next revolution will be due to environmentalism without representation.

Bob Barathy
February 13, 2014 1:03 pm

I have lived near the area of the Somerset Levels for over 25 years and it floods every winter. The media, as usual; have blown the story way out of proportion.

Latimer Alder
February 13, 2014 1:04 pm

When King Alfred The Great was obliged to flee from the Danes in 878, his refuge was at Athelney (lit: princes island) in the Somerset Levels. It stands a few feet above the general level.

February 13, 2014 1:06 pm

Reports The Guardian, ever so subtly: “The former chancellor Lord Lawson has attacked the Met Office’s chief scientist for making an “absurd” link between the floods and climate change, as global warming sceptics *DENY* growing warnings of a connection.”

February 13, 2014 1:10 pm

Absolutely correct. All those areas marked as swamp were marginal areas of ‘not quite land, not quite sea’, in which prior to the 17th Century or so the inhabitants faced constant battles with the sea. The Romans made some attempts to drain the Fens (the area north of Cambridge), but it was a battle that was often lost – and there is some suggestion that sea level fluctuations were part of the problem. The importation of expert drainage engineers from Holland in the 17th Century onwards led to comprehensive drainage of the Fens and the Somerset Levels, but these areas’ continued existence as ‘dry land’ relies on constant pumping and expert management of the drainage. There is now criticism of the UK Environment Agency, which has taken over responsibility for drainage in the Somerset Levels in recent decades, in that it has abandoned long-learned drainage practices and prioritised nature conservation over traditional drainage (sounds familiar, eh?). There are some reports that farmers have even been threatened with prosecution for clearing out the drainage ditches that have been in place for centuries. Many local farmers have now been flooded two years in a row as a result…

February 13, 2014 1:12 pm

“In November, the Met Office said there was a “slight signal for below-average precipitation” for December, January and February.”
Morons. If there’s a link between anything, it’s the tendency for poor reasoning skills to be associated with globals warming alarmism.

February 13, 2014 1:12 pm

To Ah Clem, there is isostatic uplift in NW UK (as in Scotland and UK to Morcombe Bay in west/Hull in East, there is the reverse in SE, following melt of Scandinavian Glacier (long-term, over Holocene) to consider, this is looked at in the Horton et al. paper in 2000 QSR (I worked on one of the sites).
Somerset Levels is a famous Neolithic wetland site, seemingly the UK Met Office has not heard of it. It is published in numerous places, incl. Antiquity. I am surprised this has not been mentioned, as preservation of Neolithic trackways is dependent on continuous submergent (H2O reducing) conditions in places since the mid-Holocene.
In other words, the flooding is not unprecedented.

February 13, 2014 1:15 pm
February 13, 2014 1:19 pm

This, even more than various brushfires in Australia and the American West, is the clearest example yet of what happens when you let the watermelons get effective control of some critical bit of human habitat or resource.

February 13, 2014 1:23 pm

Viral ridicule. Make it so.

February 13, 2014 1:34 pm
February 13, 2014 1:34 pm

Now let’s see how we can drive up the price of water with scary water shortage models and desal plants, run the dams too high, flood towns, and claim it is global warming. #WivenhoeDam2011Australia
The environmental activists’ prophecies of water shortage or drought always have alternative explanations in bad water management. Bad water management can be traced to environmentalist activist doctrines, AGW policy, or the almighty overpopulation paradigm.

February 13, 2014 1:44 pm

This a clear case of Senna the Soothsayer strikes again.
Woe, woe and thrice woe

February 13, 2014 1:45 pm

I’ve posted this before, just to remind everyone that historical records are available through Project Gutenberg:
(Compiled from the files of the “Norfolk Chronicle”) by CHARLES MACKIE
August 8, 1808: A remarkable storm occurred at Norwich. Streets were inundated and cellars flooded. “The roaring of the waters in falling from the roof to the lower leads of the Cathedral was so tremendous as literally to drown the noise of the thunder that accompanied it.
January 28, 1809: In consequence of a rapid thaw, the low lying parts of Norwich were flooded. “Some of the houses were six or seven feet under water,” and boats were rowed in the street at St. Martin-at-Oak. The marshes below Norwich were so inundated that the course of the river could not be traced, and the barge proceeding to Yarmouth had to return, in consequence of the men being unable to find the channel.
Etc….Reading about it in the Norfolk Chronicles and SEEING in on the BBC just MIGHT have a different effect on one’s viewpoint…

Matt G
February 13, 2014 1:47 pm

These frequent storms in the UK are actually a sign of global cooling.
Very cold air moving south from Canada and western Greenland have caused major instability over the North Atlantic ocean during recent weeks. With cold air moving south this strengthens the jet stream and moves storms east usually towards Iceland. The very cold air instead has moved the storms east towards the UK. (current image, will change)
Usually these would often move towards Iceland during warmer climate periods, but now they are one after another hitting the UK instead. This happened often during the Little Ice age, but it is now starting to happen in 2014 after a recent number of cold/very cold winters in the UK. This is exactly the type of weather pattern that occurred during the LIA, with more often cold winters and even the mild ones had the usual frequent storms hitting the UK instead of Iceland, giving very wet winters when Atlantic driven.

Mike M
February 13, 2014 1:48 pm

Global warming increases gravity too, it’s weighing us all down.

Santa Baby
February 13, 2014 1:51 pm

Some Dutch also drained some vital later great wine areas in Bordeaux.

Gail Combs
February 13, 2014 1:59 pm

Matt G says: @ February 13, 2014 at 1:47 pm
Matt, do you have any references for that? (As you probably know by now I am a reference junkie)
I know that Tony B. has been doing a lot of research in the archival material.

February 13, 2014 1:59 pm

@CaligulaJones, texts available on the Gutemberg project? Surprising these have not been “corrected” by a model…/sarc

Robert W Turner
February 13, 2014 1:59 pm

Further proof of the swampland in Somerset.

February 13, 2014 2:00 pm

Part of all these supidities is the human desire to be thought intelligent. So anything and everything, is due to that GD’d global warming. There is enough ignorance out there to
let such an explanation be thought plausible. Humans will often lie and mislead rather than
simply say “I don’t know.” This tendency reaches its highest magnitude for humans who are supposed o be authorities (like news media folks, or govt officials).

February 13, 2014 2:01 pm
February 13, 2014 2:10 pm

Anyone else watch the CNBC interview with the Chairman of AIG, America’s largest property and casualty insurance company. The anchor asked a leading question: were the recent weather events related to climate change? He made light of the question by remarking that all of the snow outside (the interview was taking place in New York) certainly suggested otherwise. The anchor reworded her question. Thankfully, the AIG Chairman refused to accept the thesis that the weather — snow and cold in the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. and drought in California — were caused by climate change. He insisted that the weather was always changing and as an insurer, they had to be prepared for all possible outcomes.

Richard D
February 13, 2014 2:17 pm

Well, if the looney green bureaucrats in the UK can’t kill these people outright by ultra high energy prices in winter or royal reincarnation as a killer virus, I suppose they can simply flood these poor people out by deliberately not dredging and/or investing in flood abatement infrastructure routinely employed by most civilized/well off societies to mitigate routine acts of nature.

Mike Smith
February 13, 2014 2:18 pm

Tim says:
Note the images in the slideshow at the foot of the page.That’s one heck of a drought! LOL

Gary Pearse
February 13, 2014 2:19 pm

Why bother voting for a candidate when the environmentalists and unelected EU bureaucrats make all the important decisions. Where were your MPs when all this was happening? Why weren’t they thundering away about all this.
The big joke is the EU thought its formation would be a competitive block to the USA. How they underestimated what they were up against! The only chance this could happen is if the US continues to let the same species have so much say in the way forward – a fear I have begun to feel strongly.
Why would the UK (and Germany) let European Lilliputians that make up the rest of the population of that failed mini-sub-continent tie them up so tightly and engineer that the productive ones pay for the whole sorry enterprise. People have become ineffectual and dependent on government in the EU under the classic strategy of the world’s many-tried-all-failed ideology. Little did they know that when the iron curtain fell, it would release the dreaded plague that it has.

Steve C
February 13, 2014 2:24 pm

To be fair, we Brits do rather enjoy a good moan about the weather – particularly when it’s rain, for which we have more words than the Eskimos do for snow.
On the other hand, we’ve had a southerly Jet stream spinning lows at us for about six weeks solid now, one after another. It’s like a water-based version of watching one of those endless goods trains going by, and we’re getting a bit fed up with the monotony. As for the Met Office, well, the less said, the better for my blood pressure.

Matt G
February 13, 2014 2:49 pm

Gail Combs says:
February 13, 2014 at 1:59 pm
“The enhanced thermal gradient between latitudes about 50° and 60–65°N in this part of the world is thought to have provided a basis for the development of some greater wind storms in these latitudes than have occurred in most of the last 100 years, though there are signs that in about the last decade or two storminess has been increasing again.”
Detailed look at storms here in Europe.
“The onset of the Little Ice Age (around 1350 AD), however, shows an intensified bottom current circulation most probably due to amplifying westerly winds and a decrease in water temperatures in connection with more frequent advances of higher saline Atlantic waters. The Little Ice Age can be divided into 3 phases: a stormy “zonal” onset, a calm “meridional” maximum and a stormy “zonal” end. The stormy phases are characterized by a sedimentation mode similar to that of recent winter conditions while the Little Ice Age Maximum shows conditions comparable to exceptional cold modern winters.”
“Although our data may not be statistically accurate, an increasing level of storm surge elevations over the recent Holocene is observed with a particular maximum during the Little Ice Age.”
“Violent storms caused massive flooding and loss of life. … seen in opening the bodies of those who had died in the beginning of the attack), when the pulse is always frequent, small, and occasionally …However, the wide variability of the Little Ice Age continued for at least 150 years …”
“Since the SLP during the LMM winter was significantly higher in northeastern Europe but below normal over the central and western Mediterranean, more frequent blocking situations were connected with cold air outbreaks towards central and eastern Europe. Springs were cold and characterized by a southward shift of the mid-latitude storm tracks. Summers in western, central Europe and northern Europe were wetter and slightly cooler than they are today due to a weaker Azores high and a more southerly position of the mean polar front axes. Autumns showed a significantly higher pressure over northern Europe and a lower pressure over continental Europe and the Mediterranean…..”

David L
February 13, 2014 3:01 pm

I thought Global Warming was going to cause droughts. It causes flooding now?
Reminds me of my friend back in graduate school who asked in all seriousness “A Thermos keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, but how does it know?”
That’s pretty much how I feel about all the diametrically opposed CAGW effects.

Peter Plail
February 13, 2014 3:17 pm

If a warming world is going to cause more extreme weather, why are summers less stormy than winters?

Matt G
February 13, 2014 3:38 pm

“Instrumental and documentary records of storminess along the Atlantic coast of western Europe show that storm activity exhibits strong spatial and temporal variability at annual and decadal scales. There is evidence of periods of increased storminess during the Little Ice Age (LIA) (AD 1570–1990), and archival records show that these periods are also associated with sand movement in coastal areas.”
“Significant transgressive dune accretion at 2.2 and 1.5 ka, implies abundant sand supply and strong onshore winds The most recent dune-building period dates to AD1770-1905 and coincides with a predominantly negative winter North Atlantic Oscillation index (NAOi).”
“The results show periods of relatively high dp(abs)24 and enhanced storminess around 1900 and the early to mid-1990s, and a relatively quiescent period from about 1930 to the early 1960s, in keeping with earlier studies. There is little evidence that the mid- to late nineteenth century was less stormy than the present, and there is no sign of a sustained enhanced storminess signal associated with “global warming.”

Matt G
February 13, 2014 3:52 pm

Peter Plail says:
February 13, 2014 at 3:17 pm
If a warming world is going to cause more extreme weather, why are summers less stormy than winters?
Thats because they have it backwards as usual. A cooling world causes more extreme weather and winters are much more stormy than summers. This is due to much colder air at the pole in winter causing much bigger temperature difference between the tropics. They lie through their teeth supporting an agenda and becomes obvious just studying how the planet behaves.

Bill Illis
February 13, 2014 3:55 pm

Last year at this time, it was global warming causing drought.
Rain, drought, rain, drought, rain, drought, ice age, interglacial, ice age, interglacial etc. etc. etc.

Ulric Lyons
February 13, 2014 4:14 pm

“Revealed: how green ideology turned a deluge into a flood”:

February 13, 2014 4:18 pm

I have lived and fished in Somerset or Zommerzet as we does says it, and I remember fishing in the drains (north and south drains are just that, large rivers dug into the peat to drain the land) in the 70’s/80’s and they were a good few feet deep but over the last few years they have silted up and got choked with weed and now many of my old fishing spots are unfishable, In the old days when they dredged the silt (mostly peat and a little clay) it was left on the bank and the local wildlife enjoyed the meal of the freshwater oysters It also built up the bank and in a few weeks was back to normal fishing again, also I have to point out that several places have been flooded to create nature reserves so parts of the land that would have taken up water are already flooded.
P.s my Grandfather once told me how in the winter months he used to go to school by boat because of the flooding on the levels.

Gail COmbs
February 13, 2014 4:21 pm

Matt G says: @ February 13, 2014 at 2:49 pm
Thanks much, now I get to go read some more. GRIN

Chad Wozniak
February 13, 2014 4:41 pm

(picky picky – I think the map shows Cambridge slightly east of its actual location, judging by where the Isle of Ely would have to be). For other non-Britons, the town and cathedral of Ely – one of the loveliest spots in England, methinks – sit on a patch of high ground 15 miles north-northeast of Cambridge. It has been my good fortune to see it three times. And driving north from there, across the fens towards Lincoln, the drainage works are in evidence everywhere.

Chris Edwards
February 13, 2014 4:55 pm

It is all the (I love the irony of this) competence of the EU the UK has to ask and get permission to dredge! the blog EUreferendum has it all!

February 13, 2014 5:13 pm

My cartoon comment on the english floods and the Met office

February 13, 2014 5:17 pm

I’ve also linked to this article on the Links page

February 13, 2014 5:55 pm

Property developers build on flood plains, and it is the fault of environmentalists that the buildings get flooded?

Steve from Rockwood
February 13, 2014 6:36 pm

Great find.

February 13, 2014 6:39 pm

Ah Clem Feb 13 12:57pm asks “Does this mean sea level has been falling?“. In Somerset, yes it has.

R. de Haan
February 13, 2014 7:48 pm

From Eureferendum: Flooding: a synergy between “green” ideologues and Brussels
Richard North, 13/02/2014

Ulric Lyons
February 13, 2014 10:06 pm
Richard D
February 13, 2014 10:09 pm

Property developers build on flood plains, and it is the fault of environmentalists that the buildings get flooded?
Yep. It’s their deliberate policy to not mitigate the risk of flooding. Most dredging and maintenance has been stopped or sharply reduced since the 1990s; however, preparation for model forecasted sea level rise is a top priority. Interestingly, the Met forecast for January, February and March predicted slightly above average rain.

February 13, 2014 10:24 pm

How about a class action suit by property owners who have suffered losses?
Does UK law allow class action suits for damages caused by negligence or failure to perform a statutory duty?

February 13, 2014 10:45 pm

Lords Sterns comment at the Guardian.
“Many commentators have suggested that we are suffering from unprecedented extreme weather. There are powerful grounds for arguing that this is part of a trend.”
The 1920’s have been the stormiest and only Scotland has really had any increased rainfall since 1914. But most floods are not in Scotland.

Silver ralph
February 13, 2014 11:29 pm

Make a complaint to BBC complaints online. its simple enough to do. And they are obliged to investigate. And then, when they palm you off, escallate and escallae again.
This is the response to the third-level complaint about a BBC report that tropical cyclones are getting more frequent, when in fact they are decreasing. if you imagine this guy handling 1,000 such complaints (and ‘phoning the newsroom each time for info), the message might at last get through.
You can imagine that people like Evan Davies (aka: tinsel tits**) has no idea that typhoons are decreasing, and was only spouting what he thought was true. Now he might know better.
Dear Mr Silver Ralph
Thank you for your email of 10 February regarding the interview between Evan Davis and Jim Yong Kim on Today which was broadcast on 13 November 2013. I’m sorry you’re dissatisfied with the BBC’s response to your complaint. We’ll now begin an investigation into the concerns you have raised, which will include a review of the correspondence so far, a discussion with the programme-makers and any other enquiries that might be appropriate.
As you may know, the remit of the Editorial Complaints Unit is to investigate specific items broadcast or published by the BBC which may have led to a serious breach of the standards expressed in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines; you can see the guidelines in full at
This remit means that I cannot consider any broader concerns you may have about the BBC’s coverage of climate change and tropical cyclones in general but I can consider the specific comments made on Today which prompted your initial complaint. I will aim to let you know the outcome of our investigation by 13 March. I should explain that when we have completed our investigation we will send you our provisional conclusions. If you disagree with our finding, you will have ten working days in which to let us have your comments, and we will only finalise our conclusions once those comments have been taken into account.
Yours sincerely
Colin Tregear
Complaints Director, BBC
** This esteemed senior reporter wears silver rings in his nipples – which says all you need to know about the BBC.

February 14, 2014 12:00 am

Reblogged this on Combyne's Weblog and commented:
“In November 2913, the Met Office said there was a “slight signal for below-average precipitation” for December, January and February.”
So how does that marry up with the above average rain seen across parts of the UK?

February 14, 2014 3:23 am

River levels are above the surrounding land BECAUSE of dredging. Dredgings are placed on the banks forming levees which if not then spread onto surrounding fields will end up raising the river.
If dredgings were spread onto fields, supplying nutrients to help crop yields, then the rivers would be at the correct level and the local water table would be lowered which increases the land’s capacity to water inundation.This reduces the overall flood risk.

February 14, 2014 3:36 am

Dredging is not a cure all – but had dredging not been stopped, then the floods would not be as severe as they are. Re johnmarshall’s note above – EU directives state that silt from dredging must be treated as toxic waste (you, that’s the EU for you), which of course makes matters even worse.
What is interesting is that the BBC refusing to mention the EU’s part in the mess on the Levels, on their website or on the radio. I don’t have a TV, but would be surprised if that was any different. This of course means they are not telling the whole story, which in turn suggests that they have an agenda WRT the EU. Which they have – they are very pro-EU, which contravenes their charter of impartiality, but the charter has long since been ignored.

February 14, 2014 3:38 am

Silver ralph says:
February 13, 2014 at 11:29 pm
I believe Mr. Davis in fact sports a penis ring.
Too much information, I know. Here’s Andrew Marr on the BBC…
‘The BBC is “a publicly-funded urban organisation with an abnormally large proportion of younger people, of people in ethnic minorities and almost certainly of gay people, compared with the population at large”.
All this, he said, “creates an innate liberal bias inside the BBC”.’

Solomon Green
February 14, 2014 3:45 am

“If dredgings were spread onto fields, supplying nutrients to help crop yields, then the rivers would be at the correct level and the local water table would be lowered which increases the land’s capacity to water inundation.This reduces the overall flood risk.”
That is much too much like common sense for our bureaucrats . But we are told that under EU law dredgings must be disposed of as waste and cannot be used either to be placed on the banks or to be spread on fields. Hence making it an extremely expensive material to get rid of. This, apparently, is one of the excuses used by the Environment Agency for having curtailed dredging for the last fifteen years or so.

Clovis Marcus
February 14, 2014 4:58 am

Once you start using reclaimed land it is a permanent commitment to keep it drained/dredged. Ask the Dutch.
Pumps are actually a good application for wind power…

February 14, 2014 5:48 am

Is it worth pointing out how cold it’s been this winter in the UK?

February 14, 2014 6:34 am

MAH = (Media-assisted hysteria)

Gail Combs
February 14, 2014 6:51 am

Matt G says: @ February 13, 2014 at 3:38 pm
I had a chance to do the reading. It turned up a treasure trove some of which I will share here:
The impact of North Atlantic storminess on western European coasts: A review Is pay-walled, however A search lead to a CO2Science discussion of a paper: called: North Atlantic Storms: Medieval Warm Period vs. Little Ice Age
Abstract: connection(DOT)
CO2Science: (wwwDOT)
This discussion is very much worth the read because it uses several different methods to shows storminess ” is high during the LIA with a marked transition from reduced levels during the MCA [hereafter MWP]
New Insights into North European and North Atlantic Surface Pressure Variability, Storminess, and Related Climatic Change since 1830>b>

The authors present initial results of a new pan-European and international storminess since 1800 as interpreted from European and North Atlantic barometric pressure variability (SENABAR) project…. The results show periods of relatively high dp(abs)24 and enhanced storminess around 1900 and the early to mid-1990s, and a relatively quiescent period from about 1930 to the early 1960s, in keeping with earlier studies. There is little evidence that the mid- to late nineteenth century was less stormy than the present, and there is no sign of a sustained enhanced storminess signal associated with global warming…..

Holocene interplay between a dune field and coastal lakes in the Quiaios– Tocha region, central littoral Portugal

Around 5000 to 4000 yr BP sea level reached the current level and the coastline was situated c. 1 km further inland compared with the present situation. Subsequently lagoon-barrier island systems developed c. 4000 yr BP. Vegetation in the region during this time was a pine/oak forest. Between 4000 and 1600 yr BP the forest was replaced by a semi-natural heathland. Later the heathland was degraded, allowing dune migration and finally formation of a desert-like landscape. This process was probably a consequence of a combination of deteriorating climate during the ‘Little Ice Age’ (LIA) and overgrazing. To counteract sand invasion, reforestation efforts were initiated in the region c. 300 years ago and locally along the coastal margin between 1924 and 1940. Formation of the row of freshwater lakes bordering the dune field at present was contemporaneous with the initial reforestation phase. A close relation between lake formation and accumulation of sand dunes was found. Various types of dunes were identified, truncated dunes, parabolic dunes and transverse/oblique dunes. Dune migration caused an eastward displacement of lakes….

Aeolian sand movement and relative sea-level rise in Ho Bugt, western Denmark, during the `Little Ice Age’

….OSL analyses date the sand sheet to between AD 1460 ± 40 and AD 1550 ± 30 (490 ± 40 and 400 ± 30 cal. yr BP), consistent with a period of increased storminess, coastal dune building, saltmarsh formation and increased relative sea-level rise during the early part of the LIA. Other studies have ascribed formation of coastal dunes along western European coastlines during the `Little Ice Age’ (LIA) to a combination of increased storminess and low relative sea level. In contrast, we conclude that during the LIA in western Denmark, storminess, transgressive conditions and relative sea-level rise, rather than a sea-level low stand, were important contributing factors to coastal sand movement and dune formation.

Structure of the 8200-Year Cold Event Revealed by a Speleothem Trace Element Record has several interesting links to storminess and such. One is The Holocene Asian Monsoon: Links to Solar Changes and North Atlantic Climate looking at “A 5-year-resolution absolute-dated oxygen isotope record from Dongge Cave, southern China, provides a continuous history of the Asian monsoon over the past 9000 years.” with even more interesting links.

Gail Combs
February 14, 2014 7:07 am

RoHa says: @ February 13, 2014 at 5:55 pm
Property developers build on flood plains, and it is the fault of environmentalists that the buildings get flooded?
It is the fault of GOVERNMENT. On the one hand they listen to the Econuts and do not keep up the drainages already put in place or insist that new drainage be installed as needed. On the other hand they take the ERRrrr, MMMmm (I got it!) ‘Campaign Contributions’ and look the other way when developers build in unsuitable places.
For example here in the USA I went through all sorts of hoops to get permission to build 110 ft up from the one hundred year flood zone on a ridge a mile from a major river. It took close to a year. I had to get the Army Corp of Engineers and the state geologist to sign off before I was given a building permit. A decade later THE SAME PERSON gave permits to build right next to the river in a flood plain I have seen flooded to at least three or more feet one step from the edge of the water I have no idea how deep it was further out but it was ~ 3000 ft to the normal river bank.
This is typical in any country. Money talks.

February 14, 2014 7:14 am

“To be fair, we Brits do rather enjoy a good moan about the weather”
As an English emigre to the USA I am firmly convinced that the main driver behind the British Empire was the desire to find new weather to complain about. And in a nod to Robert W Turner, there is very definitely a Monty Python sketch waiting in my theory.
Incidentally I grew up a few miles north of Upton upon Severn and the markers around town showing the height of various historic floods have to be seen to be believed and neither the current nor the 2007 floods were any where near those marks.

Silver ralph
February 14, 2014 5:33 pm

Incidentally I grew up a few miles north of Upton upon Severn and the markers around town showing the height of various historic floods have to be seen to be believed and neither the current nor the 2007 floods were any where near those marks.
here are some of those very markers (scroll down to the Upton comment). Shame there is no 2007 and 2014 markers to compare. is that because they are much further down??

Matt G
February 15, 2014 7:28 am

Gail Combs says:
February 14, 2014 at 6:51 am
“Other studies have ascribed formation of coastal dunes along western European coastlines during the `Little Ice Age’ (LIA) to a combination of increased storminess and low relative sea level. In contrast, we conclude that during the LIA in western Denmark, storminess, transgressive conditions and relative sea-level rise, rather than a sea-level low stand, were important contributing factors to coastal sand movement and dune formation.”
One issue I have is partly blaming sea-level rise to important factors regarding sand movement and dune formation. While this likely has a little influence, if it was a major factor than this behavior would have been observed since early 1900’s with continuing sea level rises after. The evidence here shows sand movement and dune formation doesn’t occur after this period, so very unlikely continued rising sea levels caused it in the first place.

Solomon Green
February 15, 2014 11:50 am

Gail Combs
“It is the fault of GOVERNMENT. ….. On the other hand they take the ERRrrr, MMMmm (I got it!) ‘Campaign Contributions’ and look the other way when developers build in unsuitable places.”
In the UK it was the fault of Government but campaign contributions had nothing to do with it. In order to appease the trade unions Tony Blair made John Prescott his Deputy Prime Minister and gave him the responsibility of producing housing for the flood of immigrants to which he was opening the doors (about 2 million in a ten year period). Prescott, who had much in common with Bill Clinton but without half the brain or any of the charisma, issued dictats to the local authorities that was designed to force them to provide new housing far beyond the capacity of many of the boroughs or counties. If local authority planners rejected a site, and even if that rejection was upheld by the Inspector, the Deputy Prime Minister was able to overrule all objections. After a while, the planners got the message “flood plane or no flood plane, housing is the priority and to hell with the consequences.”
Sadly it looks as if the coalition government finds it easier to follow the Prescott line than to rethink the policy.

February 15, 2014 12:05 pm

The map is inaccurate in that Cornwall was never part of Wessex nor a depency of Wessex, it should be listed as one of the Celtic lands. Also, the English channel would have been called the British sea at that time, it wasn’t referred to as the English channel until after the reformation when English map making was becoming more commonplace.

Craig Weatherhill
February 15, 2014 12:08 pm

If you’re goig to claim this to be “history”, then at least get it right. In 878, Cornwall was still an independent Celtic kingdom. We were never part of Wessex, never a dependancy of it. We didn’t even negotiate any sort of treaty with Wessesx until 927.

Lance Dyer
February 15, 2014 12:14 pm

Sorry you map is incorrect – present Cornwall would be know as Dumnonia and would be considered as separate to ‘England’ until the reign of Henry VIII – not sure the rst is accurate – using the Somerset Levels as always prone to flooding does not explain the extend of this year’s floods?

February 15, 2014 1:19 pm

Kenneth, Craig & Lance:
The last claimant to the throne of the Kingdom of Cornwall drowned in AD 875. From 815 the kings of Wessex controlled Cornwall to varying degrees as a separate duchy, not officially part of Wessex, but not independent either. Cornish rebels made the understandable mistake of siding with the Danes, but were defeated by the king of Wessex in 838. After Alfred, resistance was useless.
I agree that, despite the overlordship of Wessex, the map ought to show Cornwall as a non-English duchy, although already much of its land was owned by Englishmen & its church was incorporated into the Wessex system.

February 15, 2014 1:37 pm

To — ‘Les Johnson says:
February 13, 2014 at 1:03 pm ‘
I am as opposed to the idea of AGM as anyone around here and the levels should maybe have been dredged.
However to blame the EU for it not being done is wide of the mark. There are clear exceptions in respect of dredging to the EU disposal of waste regulations. The EU does not stop Holland dredging.

February 15, 2014 1:41 pm

Lance Dyer:
At February 15, 2014 at 12:14 pm you say

Sorry you map is incorrect – present Cornwall would be know as Dumnonia and would be considered as separate to ‘England’ until the reign of Henry VIII – not sure the rst is accurate – using the Somerset Levels as always prone to flooding does not explain the extend of this year’s floods?

The Cornish still consider Cornwall to be a separate country from England and that they are answerable to the Stannary Court. Cornwall has its own flag which is the flag of St Pirran and not the English flag of St George. The Bible Rebellion was crushed at the bottom of the hill on which I live, and the rebels objected to the Latin Bible being replaced by the Bible in the English language and not in the Cornish language in Cornish Churches.
But all of that is of little importance.
The Somerset Levels are man-made land which will return to being swamp if the drainage system and pumping systems are not maintained. The pumping was reduced and dredging of the rivers was stopped. The result was inevitable. Some properties were flooded last year and everyone on the levels was begging for the needed dredging to be resumed or they would be flooded this year. Their desperate pleas were rejected and they have all been flooded this year.

February 15, 2014 2:07 pm

richardscourtney says:
February 15, 2014 at 1:41 pm
At Sampford Courtenay?!

February 15, 2014 2:07 pm

milodonharlani.. Sorry i know this is off topic for this thread, but you’re statement is inaccurate. Athelstan set a border with the Cornish at the Tamar in 936, you can check that on many online sources. The amount of land owned by landords outside Cornwall was not more than was controlled by local landlords at this time, and King Hywel of Cornwall was alive in Athelstans time. Cornwall was still independent well after this and wasn’t made a duchy until 1337. There is too much to discuss here but perhaps you could quote your sources?

February 15, 2014 2:28 pm

The only Celtic King Hywel in Athelstan’s time of whom I have read was Hywel Dda (c. AD 880 to 950), a petty king in SW Wales who managed eventually to spread his rule over most of that country.
Athelstan could set the border of Cornwall at the Tamar because he effectively controlled both sides of the river.
My primary sources are the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles & the Annals of Wales, & secondary sources various history books based upon them. For what it’s worth, here’s the Wiki entry on the last recorded King of Cornwall:

February 15, 2014 2:45 pm

Wessex and its dependencies? Nonsense. Craig and Kenneth are correct. Cornwall was not incorporated into Wessex so the map is pure fantasy. Nor was in incorporated, annexed or united at any time since – see the Crown versus Duchy 1858 Foreshore Case. Cornwall is the constitutional skeleton in the cupboard of the so-called United Kingdom.

February 15, 2014 2:49 pm

milodonharlani, you say “Athelstan could set the border of Cornwall at the Tamar because he effectively controlled both sides of the river.” I’d be interested to hear what primary sources you are basing that statement on.

February 15, 2014 2:51 pm

There is much dispute on this subject, and i have read a few history books which dispute the claims of many anglo-academics who write about Cornwall. I don’t think there is any evidence to suggest that Athelstan controlled both sides of the Tamar either when he set the border in 936, and Hywel is also recorded as king of the “West Welsh”, which refers to the Cornish/Dumnonians not the Welsh. I’m afraid WIKI doesn’t always get things right and these subjects are still a matter of hot debate.
Regards, Kenneth

Craig Weatherhill
February 15, 2014 2:53 pm

Huwal, king of the Westwealas, signed that treaty at Eamont Bridge. The term ‘Westwealas’ was only ever applied to the Cornish. Hywel (Dda) of South Wales had already signed a similar trreaty with Athelstan’s predecessor. At the Norman Conquest one Cadoc was cited as the last of the Cornish royal dynasty. The Cornish Celtic church did not fall under the Wessex system, but was increasingly under pressure from Canterbury to conform to Roman doctrines. It was the last of the Celtic nations to hold out, not going over to Roman Catholicism until the early 10th century. We are quite familar with Donyarth, thanks. My sources are rather wider than just the ASC and Wiki.

February 15, 2014 3:38 pm

Kenneth says:
February 15, 2014 at 2:51 pm
I´ll have to take your word that there is a lot of dispute on this subject. It seems improbable to me that Athelstan did not control his own backyard when he waged successful war all over Britain, such that the Welsh, Scots (Alba) & Strathclyde Britons all accepted his overlordship & he defeated combinations of the latter two groups with the Norse in York & from Dublin. The Welsh were on his side at the Battle of Brunanburh.
The Chronicle records that even before Alfred, Wessex held overlordship of Cornwall. This is the same Chronicle which says that Athelstan fixed the boundary between Cornish & English at the Tamar, so the same evidence which you cite supports the fact of Wessex overlordship & control of the Church & many lands there.
Good luck finding a Welsh historian who regards Hywel or the West Welsh as Cornish. Hywel appears in both Welsh & English sources as a king of SW Wales who, in collaboration with Athelstan, exerted his control over most of the country. He’s revered as a law-giver in Wales.
Craig Weatherhill says:
February 15, 2014 at 2:53 pm
I would be interested in your sources.
Cadoc’s ancestor may have been descended 200 years on from the last Cornish king Donyarth, but being a surviving member of a royal line does not make you a king. Ask any of the numerous Hapsburgs in Europe today.
In order to subdue the English, the Normans may (according to one source centuries later) briefly have elevated Cadoc to Earl of Cornwall, but soon brought in Breton-Norman knights, including William’s own half-brother, Brian of Brittany is accounted first Earl of Cornwall, not Cadoc.
Orme’s 2007 book, Cornwall and the Cross: Christianity, 500–1560, tells a different story of the Catholic Church there in the 9th, 10th & 11th centuries. Whatever practices the people may have followed, the ecclesiastical establishment was under English control, which to me seems reasonable given the unequal. to say the least, balance of power.
Even the 9th or 10th century Bodmin Manumissions are in Anglo-Saxon as well as Latin & Cornish.

February 15, 2014 3:42 pm

Should be a period after half-brother, not comma. Brian wasn’t William’s brother. Typing on a Spanish laptop.

John Tillman
February 16, 2014 3:54 am

West Wales was a name for Cornwall or Dumnonia before the Wessex supremacy, but it did not refer to the land ruled by the 10th century Hywel Dda. He was from the SW part of “North Wales”, ie Wales, as any Welsh historian will tell you.

February 17, 2014 2:42 am

It may surprise some that a major river sluice on the Somerset Levels is closed! Or might as well be. It comprises two channels one side being fully closed the other is set into the summer position.
No amount of dredging would get round this. It would appear that the control cabins are padlocked shut.
Call in The Royal Engineers, a few pounds of C4 will get that sluice open.

February 17, 2014 3:36 am

Americans may be unaware of why there is so much dispute of ancient Cornish history. I write to explain in hope that the thread can return to its subject.
Cornwall has a long tradition as a separate country from England and still has some unique cultural differences. But England has dominated Cornwall for at least a thousand years. This dominance is explained by the geological riches of Cornwall; tin, copper, sulphur, granite, serpentine, etc. are all relatively abundant in Cornwall. Long, long ago the Phonecians called Cornwall ‘The Tin Islands’ and kept its location a secret. Cornwall was an important UK strategic resource until the mid-twentieth century.
In a few months time Scotland will vote on whether to leave the United Kingdom. So, national unity is a serious issue in the UK at present.
A few years ago the Producers of the US television program ‘The Simpsons’ wanted to provide an episode where Lucie would campaign as a freedom fighter. Unaware of UK sensibilities, they phoned a member of the Cornish Language Society and asked for the Cornish language translation of ‘Free Cornwall’. The episode was made and broadcast in the USA with result that a diplomatic incident ensued with the UK government demanding official apology. ‘The Simpsons’ is broadcast in the UK but that episode is not.
The issue of Cornish identity is of more than mere historical interest (as is the issue of Scottish identity). So, perhaps WUWT is not a good forum to debate it.

February 18, 2014 5:07 am

BBC newsnight hatchet job again. They had a climate scientist and ‘a denier’ who they pointed out was ‘not a scientist’. Let alone if that was ‘important’ they could have asked a scientist with a non co2 view lets have a look at the scientist they did ask Kevin Anderson . In this link we read “Global warming professor Kevin Anderson ‘cuts back on washing and showering’ to fight climate change – Admits at UN climate summit: ‘That is why I smell’ – Defends his call for ‘a planned economic recession’ ”
So this is the guy the BBC went out of their way to say was ‘scientist’. While all the eco lifestyle tips and utopianism might be of interest to some what on earth has it got to do with stopping flooding on somerset marshland? Is his competence climate science or political science or iron age living?
The ipcc group recently admitted themselves the climate models upon which the predictions are based and upon which the ipcc reports are based cannot model past climate with known data and so are unvalidated. Evaluation of Climate Models Wednesday 5 February 2014 Presenting author: Dr Catherine Senior, Met Office and Prof Peter Cox,University of Exeter.
the audio is here
if you cannot replicate past performance you also cannot predict future performance. Would anyone rely on an unvalidated air traffic control model in real time and then rely on it predictions? Policy makers have no need to listen to anything from an unvalidated model and the eco bullies can be dismissed by pointing them to the validation studies of the models from where they got their predictions.. The validation reports blow up the co2 deathstar..
exploding deathstar

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