Thursday, January 20

Extreme weather will be the norm and UK is unprepared, report warns | Extreme weather

Extreme weather events will hit the UK more frequently due to the climate crisis, scientists said after data showed that last year was one of the warmest, as well as one of the wettest and sunniest in history.

Last year it was the first to make it into the top 10 for heat, rain and sunshine, on records dating back more than a century, as moderate British weather is fast becoming a thing of the past, according to a report from the Met Office and climate scientists.

The extremely sunny start of the shutdown in spring 2020 followed the wettest February, while a heat wave that hit in August combined to make 2020 the third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest year on record, according to him State of UK Climate 2020, published in the International Journal of Climatology.

Mike Kendon, Senior Climate Scientist at the Met Office’s National Climate Information Center and lead author of the study, said: “The UK’s climate is already changing. The warming we see is generally consistent with what we see globally … and our climate seems to get wetter and warmer, and that’s consistent with our broad understanding of the process. [of climate change]. “

UK meteorological records date back centuries in some cases, with a series of temperatures for central England dating back to 1659 and other temperature records on an unbroken line from 1884, with the rains dating back to 1862, and in some more cases. The report’s authors merged data from these series and temperature and sea level, and compared them with last year’s findings.

According to these, the last 30-year period (1991-2020) is 0.9 ° C warmer than the previous 30 years (1961-1990), and the UK has been 6% wetter on average in the most recent period.

Globally, earth temperatures are about 1.2 ° C higher than in pre-industrial times. Governments will meet this November in Glasgow at the UN’s COP26 climate summit to try to agree on a way to prevent the world from warming more than 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels.

However, average weather is only part of the picture – scientists are particularly concerned that UK weather is getting more extreme. Last year, storms Ciara and Dennis struck just a week apart, bringing rainfall that in some places was more than four times the historical monthly average.

Kendon said: “We see a continual emerging pattern of higher temperatures and more extreme rainfall. The baseline of our climate is changing and what we consider normal is changing. “

William Collins, a professor of meteorology at the University of Reading, who was not involved in the report, said: “UK weather is likely to become even more extreme as global temperatures rise. Governments are committed to making efforts to limit temperature increases to 1.5 ° C. Failure to do so will lead to global climate impacts, and we will not be immune in the UK. “

As the planet warms under the influence of greenhouse gases, the warming air can hold more moisture, making the British climate much more humid than in the past.

Richard Allan, professor of climate science at the University of Reading, explained: “Very humid periods and associated flooding are becoming more severe as higher levels of greenhouse gases heat the air, increasing the humidity that feeds the storms. A thirstier atmosphere also dries the soil more effectively, intensifying the already hottest periods and making our climate more extreme. “

Those extremes are likely to cause serious problems as most of the infrastructure in the UK has not been built to tolerate the kinds of rain, heat waves and storms that are likely to hit the most frequently. Floods have hit the UK again in recent days, following a heat wave earlier this month, raising questions about the UK’s ability to cope with extreme weather.

Liz Bentley, executive director of the Royal Meteorological Society, which published the article, warned of the danger of viewing hot weather through “rose-tinted lenses” by focusing on hot weather, and said extremes of heat and rain they would bring a lot of trouble. .

“When we saw the extreme heat events during the summer of last year, the roads were starting to melt, on the rail network the rails started to bend, so all trains have to slow down and we see a lot of cancellations and postponements. The electrical wiring also begins to deform, so we see power outages, “he said. “The impacts it will have on our daily lives [mean] it will start to have a much more negative effect than some kind of warm sunny day. “

The impacts are also being seen in agriculture and the natural world. The first leaves appeared much earlier and fell much earlier than usual last year, according to the report. These effects can wreak havoc on other species, which may find themselves out of sync; for example, caterpillars and other invertebrates may peak before the baby birds are born, leaving them with little to eat.

Darren Moorcroft, CEO of the Woodland Trust, said: “If a species goes out of sync, that potentially leads to a breakdown within food chains and subsequently to species struggling not just to survive but to thrive.”

Sea level rise has also doubled since the beginning of the last century, from 1.5 mm per year to more than 3 mm per year, which is equivalent to 2 cm per decade in the last 60 years. Ed Hill, director of the UK’s National Oceanography Center, said: “An immediate consequence will be extreme higher sea levels during high tides and storms causing flooding.”

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