Saturday 25 May 2024

Ten-year-old girl killed in mudslide in North Yorkshire, UK.

A ten-year-old girl has been killed by a mudslide while on a forest walk at Carlton-in-Cleveland on the edge of the North York Moors National Park in North Yorkshire, England, on Wednesday 22 May 2024. Leah Harrison from Darlington, was on a week-long residential school trip to the Carlton Adventure activity centre to celebrate the completion of SAT Tests (Standardised Assessment Tests, or SATs, are national assessments that are administered by primary schools in the UK), when the incident happened. An investigation into the event is being carried out by North Yorkshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive.

Leah Harrison (10), killed by a mudslide at Carlton-in-Cleveland in North Yorkshire on 22 May 2024. North Yorkshire Police.

The incident happened following a period of heavy rainfall in the area, with as much rain falling in the 12 hours prior to the incident as typically fall in a month in the area. Landslides are a common problem after severe weather events, as excess pore water pressure can overcome cohesion in soil and sediments, allowing them to flow like liquids. Approximately 90% of all landslides are caused by heavy rainfall. A Yellow Weather Alert had been issued at the time of the accident, the lowest level of such alerts in the UK, which would lead people to expect some disruption to travel or outdoor events, but not significant danger.

The UK has been suffering a series of extreme weather events, including flooding and tornadoes, driven by exceptionally high temperatures over the Atlantic Ocean. As the air is heated the air pressure drops and the air rises, causing new air to rush in from outside the forming storm zone. If this zone is sufficiently large, then it will be influenced by the Coriolis Effect, which loosely speaking means the winds closer to the equator will be faster than those further away, causing the storm to rotate, clockwise in the northern hemisphere and anticlockwise in the southern hemisphere.

The high temperatures experienced in the past year have been linked to a combination of anthropogenic global warming, driven by emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, with an El Niño - Southern Oscillation climate system over the Pacific Ocean, a natural phenomenon which also tends to drive temperatures upwards. However, the El Niño system appears to have been weakening over the past months, with sea surface temperatures over the eastern equatorial Pacific actually being lower than the average for 1990-2020, while global temperatures have continued to rise, suggesting that the El Niño system may be playing as large a role in driving this year's high temperatures as previously assumed.

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