• extreme event;
  • temporal trend;
  • threshold;
  • urban;
  • risk;
  • climate change adaptation


Extreme weather events can have severe consequences for the local environment and population. Projected future changes in climate (e.g. UKCP09) indicate that North West England is likely to experience an increasing frequency and intensity of meteorological extremes, leading to flooding, heat waves and storms. Consequently, it is important that the region enhances its preparedness for such events. This paper explores the possibility of developing quantifiable climate risk indices for the case study area of Greater Manchester, using a combination of archival research and statistical analysis of past climate data. For extremes which are the function of a single meteorological variable (e.g. heat waves, pluvial flooding and heavy snowfall) the thresholds proved to be reliable and skillful. Days with maximum daily temperature greater than or equal to 29.2 °C, daily snowfall amount greater than or equal to 6 cm or maximum gust speed greater than or equal to 60 knots are found to be indicative of weather-related impacts which have in the past affected human health/well-being, have caused damage to the urban infrastructure or have severely disrupted services. Extreme events which are the result of a more complex interaction between variables (e.g. drought, freezing conditions) were less well captured by applying the thresholds associated with a single variable in isolation. Such critical threshold indices can be used in conjunction with future projections of climate change to establish weather-related risk for the future. This risk-based approach can subsequently be integrated to climate change adaptation strategies and development planning to ensure future preparedness. Copyright © 2011 Royal Meteorological Society