Devastating flooding in Ireland and the UK between October 2023 and March 2024 was caused by “human-induced climate change” an international team of scientists said in a new study published today (Wednesday, May 22) .

They have also warned that in the future “we can expect further increases in frequency of wet autumns and winters”.

The study which looked at the period from October to March – traditionally the height of the storm season – highlighted that rainfall “was made about 20% heavier” in the UK and Ireland because of human-caused climate change.

Sarah Kew, researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, said: “The UK and Ireland face a wetter, damper and mouldier future due to climate change.

“Until the world reduces emissions to net zero, the climate will continue to warm, and rainfall in the UK and Ireland will continue to get heavier.”

Scientists also detailed that storms Babet, Ciarán, Henk and Isha were some of the “most damaging” in Ireland and the UK, leading to severe floods, at least 13 deaths, severe damages to homes and infrastructure, power outages, travel cancellations, and loss of crops and livestock.

Because of the major impacts of rainfall on farming and agricultural areas, brought about by both severe storms and smaller weather systems, the researchers examined the total rainfall for the October to March period.

This was the second wettest in the UK and the third wettest in Ireland.

Puddle of water on a muddy country road with a track of wet soil

Ciara Ryan, climatologist at Met Éireann, added: “Over the recent autumn-winter period we have witnessed the impact that heavy or prolonged rainfall has had on our communities, our land and the farming and agricultural sector, waterlogging the soils with virtually no time for them to dry out and become usable.”

“The insights that we gain from studies like this are important to help us plan for the future, to support adaptation and mitigation strategies for an already changing climate," he added.


Scientists from the Ireland, the UK, Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, including scientists from each of the National Meteorological Services in the Western Europe storm-naming group analysed weather data and climate models to quantify the role of human-caused climate change on strong winds and heavy rainfall.

They cautioned that rainfall associated with storms is becoming “more intense and likely” in many parts of the world due to global warming.

Their analysis also showed that farmers in Ireland and the UK experienced “huge loss of crops and productivity” due to flooding and waterlogged soils during 2023 and 2024.

The scientists believe the outlook for “increasing autumn and winter rainfall” highlights the importance of considering how land-use can affect the impacts of heavy rainfall.

“For example, losses of natural grasses and woodlands can reduce soil drainage and increase the risk of flooding,” they said.

According to Mark McCarthy, science manager of climate attribution at the Met Office, the “seemingly never ending rainfall” this autumn and winter across the UK and Ireland had notable impacts across the two countries.

“This new study shows how rainfall associated with storms and seasonal rainfall through autumn and winter have increased, in part due to human induced climate change.

“In the future we can expect further increases in frequency of wet autumns and winters. That’s why it is so important for us to adapt to our changing climate and become more resilient to increases in rainfall.”