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South coast flood risk increasing

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The risk of flooding along the south coast of England is increasing due to annually rising water levels, according to researchers from the University of Southampton.

Using records collected from across the south of the country, researchers have been able to form a single set of data recording the sea levels for the last century.

They found that both the mean sea levels and the extreme sea levels have been rising year upon year, at a rate of between 1.2mm and 2.2mm.

The risk of flooding increases during storms, meaning people with property along the south coast are reliant on home insurance to protect their houses.

Coastal engineering expert Professor Robert Nicholls said: "While these changes seem small, over a century they accumulate and substantially increase the risk of flooding during storms, unless there have been corresponding upgrades to flood defences.

"A water level that had an average likelihood of occurring once every 100 years in 1900 now has an average likelihood of occurring on average every 10 to 25 years, depending on the site considered.

"As sea levels continue to rise and probably accelerate, this increase in the likelihood of flooding will continue."

© Press Association 2009