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Thursday, July 15, 1999 Published at 08:06 GMT 09:06 UK


£10m for violent weather centre

The centre could predict twisters, and advise how to avoid them

A £10m centre to help UK regions deal with tornadoes, flooding, heatwaves and other problems caused by climate change is being set up by the government.

The new Climate Change Centre, which will be developed at an as-yet undisclosed location, will attempt to monitor trends and predict weather events caused by global warming.

Lord Sainsbury: "It will monitor the impact of global warming on a local level"
It will then come up with counter measures or action needed to tackle any problems.

Science Minister Lord Sainsbury said the new centre would be one of the first in Britain to deal with the impact of global warming specifically at a national level.

[ image: Farmers could learn how to start growing grapes ... in Yorkshire]
Farmers could learn how to start growing grapes ... in Yorkshire
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it would focus on "whether there are changing trends and what action should flow from that".

The centre would be multi-disciplinary, he said, looking at issues such as the frequency of storms, risk of flooding or coastal erosion, changes in disease patterns and changes which may be necessary in agriculture.

In general, it is expected that global warming will mean the south-east of the UK will become hotter and drier as the north-west becomes hotter and wetter.

[ image: ... while households would be warned of the likelihood of flooding]
... while households would be warned of the likelihood of flooding
But there will also be more extreme events, such as the "twister and blister" - tornado followed by a heatwave - which hit the Midlands earlier this month.

The hurricane which hit south-east England in October 1987, causing huge destruction of property and woodlands, brought home the impact freak weather can have.

Since then Britain has basked in above-average temperatures during the summers of 1989, 1990 and 1995, and there have been several serious flooding incidents in north Wales, the Midlands and the west country.

Areas such as East Anglia are already prone to serious drought in summer and are also liable to flooding caused by rising sea levels.

However, Lord Sainsbury pointed out that global warming was not "all downside" - adding as an example the possibility of growing grapes in a warmer North Yorkshire.

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