SCIENTISTS at Oxford University have said climate change increased the likelihood of the heavy rain which caused devastating flooding in parts of the UK recently.

Researchers from the university, as well as from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and Climate Central, used three different methods to assess whether the chances of such heavy rain had increased because of global warming.

The methods, including Oxford University's "weather at home" scheme which utilises volunteers' home computers' spare capacity to run thousands of simulations of weather, all agreed there was an increased likelihood of climate change playing a role.

A first assessment of the potentially record-breaking rain that hit Cumbria as part of Storm Desmond suggests rising global temperatures made it around 40 per cent more likely than without human influence on the climate.

The dramatic amount of rain, which saw 13.44in fall in Honister, Cumbria, in 24 hours, has increased from a one-in-100 year event to a one-in-70 year event due to global warming.

Dr Friederike Otto, from the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, said the team analysed the extreme rainfall that occurred in the northern UK as Storm Desmond hit between Friday, December 4 and Sunday, December 6.

He said: "We are now able to give an objective and initial assessment whether and to what extent climate change played a role in this event."