There’s something intrinsically fascinating about disaster films. Remember that scene in Roland Emmerich’s CGI-fest, ’2012′ where the American President watches as a giant tidal wave looms over his city and comes crashing down? Or the one in Tony Mitchell’s 2007 film ‘Flood’ (pictured opposite), where we see the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament disappear beneath a froth of salt water as millions lose their homes and lives and water engulfs the city? When watching one of these films it’s hard not to wonder what the chances of such a disaster happening actually are.
Whilst events on the scale of those depicted in Mitchell’s fictitious film are highly unlikely, with the right combination of factors, the flooding of London is a very real possibility. There is a 1 in 1,000 chance that, during any given year, London will be flooded by a storm surge, a freak phenomenon caused by extreme weather conditions and a number of contributing factors. However, when we take into the consideration the influence of global warming, this risk and the effects of such a disaster become much greater. After 2030 the likelihood of the Thames flooding will increase anyway, but these chances will be further fuelled by the effects of global warming, which is just one of the reasons as to why this needs to be reduced.
This website explores the likelihood of such an event occurring in London and exactly what would happen if it did take place. It examines the phenomena of storm surges, demonstrating how, with the right combination of factors, these can be lethal to coastal cities. Then, using this information, it reconstructs what might happen if such a storm surge were to flood London before explaining how the effects of global warming contribute to this risk and how it can be reduced. In order to demonstrate how the city would be affected by floods we have divided it into East London, Central London and West London. To find out what would happen in each area and which landmarks might be damaged you can click these links or click on parts of the map below.
This BBC documentary explains more about how London might be flooded:
This video shows how the Thames Barrier works and explains why it may not be a suitable form of flood protection for the city of London. It also reminds us that London has been the subject of severe flooding before and recounts some of its past stories.
Part 2 of this video discusses how well built London is to withstand a flood and shows us what measures might be taken to prevent future flooding.