The transformation of the British landscape over the past 12 months has been dramatic.

At the end of 2011, the nation was caught in the grip of one of the severest droughts on record. Low rainfall over the previous year had reduced water levels in rivers and reservoirs to exceptional levels.

The year ahead promised to be one of parched landscapes, hosepipe bans and streams turned to trickles. There could have been widespread consequences for farmers, food production, tourism, industry and domestic life, warned officers from the UK's Environment Agency.

Today, the country is in a very different state. Villages across much of the UK have been flooded and cut off; railway lines have been closed; hundreds of flood alerts have been issued by the Environment Agency; homes have been evacuated and commuters and travellers have been forced to abandon plans for the festive season as sections of the transport network have ground to a halt. Today, the UK is on the brink of having had its wettest year since records began in 1910.


It is an astonishing change of fortunes. According to experts, the key changes in Britain's weather occurred in early summer.

The past couple of weeks saw downpours across much of the country, with southwest England bearing the brunt of the grim weather, but it was record falls over the months between April and June that brought UK figures to their highs for 2012 and have raised river and reservoir levels to brimming point.

The changing behaviour of jetstreams over the country have been blamed for the change. The reason for the change includes the proposal that rising temperatures in the Arctic - triggered by increasing levels of man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere - could be destabilising jetstream patterns.

However, scientists stress that more research is needed.

- Observer