Submerged streets, lost lives and thousands left homeless - from New Orleans to the recent flooding across England, the destructive power of water is all too clear.
Are we witnessing the first effects of global warming? Will similar disasters become routine in future? Discover the facts at the Natural History Museum's Annual Science Lecture to be held Tuesday 27 November.
Join guest speaker Professor David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey to find out what Antarctica's melting ice sheets could mean for flood defences around Britain.
'Antarctica is a crucial piece in the global warming jigsaw,' said Professor Vaughan. 'Understanding how its ice sheets respond to climate change is one of the biggest uncertainties in predicting sea-level rise. With around 17 million people living near the coast in the UK, this is something we cannot afford to ignore.'
Recent studies suggest the world's ice sheets and glaciers hold enough water to make sea levels rise by 70 metres - and they seem to be melting faster than past scientific predictions have suggested.
After a year of violent and unpredictable weather in the UK, our flood defences are looking vulnerable. What can we do to minimise the risk and can we afford to protect ourselves?
Professor David Vaughan is a world authority on glacial retreat and a leading researcher at the British Antarctic Survey. He is a co-ordinating lead author for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which examines the potential impacts of climate change and options for adaptation and mitigation and will publish its latest report on 16 November.
Since joining the British Antarctic Survey in 1985 as a field glaciologist, Vaughan has led seven science campaigns to Antarctica.
He has written more than 100 papers and articles about Antarctic ice sheets and climate change. He is currently one of eight scientists heading up a programme of research into the impact of climate on the Antarctic ice sheet.
He received the Polar Medal from the Queen in 2004 and is also an Honorary Professor in the School of Environment and Society at Swansea University.
Now in its thirteenth year, the Natural History Museum's Annual Science Lecture has established itself as one of the most important forums for stimulating scientific debate.
Professor David Vaughan follows previous eminent speakers such as Lord Winston, Professor John Maynard Smith, Professor Richard Dawkins, Sir David Attenborough, Bill McGuire and the Museum's senior scientists Professor Chris Stringer and Andy Currant.
Flood Warning? The Global Impact of the Melting Ice Sheets Natural History Museum Annual Science Lecture, Tuesday 27 November, 19.30-21.00