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UK feeling effects of climate change

UK feeling effects of climate change

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The UK is already undergoing disruptive climate change with increased rainfall, sunshine and temperatures, according to scientists.

The year 2020 was the third warmest, fifth wettest and eight sunniest on record, scientists said in the latest UK State of the Climate report.

No other year is in the top 10 on all three criteria.

The experts said that, in the space of 30 years, the UK has become 0.9C warmer and 6% wetter.

The report’s lead author Mike Kendon, climate information scientist at the UK Met Office, told BBC News: “A lot of people think climate change is in the future – but this proves the climate is already changing here in the UK.

“As it continues to warm we are going to see more and more extreme weather such as heatwaves and floods.”

Scientists warn of worse extreme weather if global temperatures rise and politicians fail to curb carbon emissions.

The report says the UK has become hotter, sunnier and rainier:

  • 2020 was the third warmest UK year since 1884; all the years in the top 10 are since 2002
  • Last year was one of the least snowy on record; any snow mainly affected upland and northern areas
  • Spring 2020 was the UK’s sunniest on record, and sunnier than most UK summers.
  • 2020 was the UK’s fifth wettest year; six of the 10 wettest years have been since 1998

Liz Bentley, head of the Royal Meteorological Society, said that even if governments could achieve the challenging outcome of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C – which looks very unlikely – that would still lead to a 10% increase in the amount of water the air can hold.

“In the UK,” she said, “we are likely to see temperatures of 40C. As we get 1.5C warming, that’ll be something we see on a regular basis.

“People don’t realise that even a small temperature rise of 0.1 or 0.2 degrees overall can make a huge difference – especially in the frequency and intensity of extreme events.

“We had roads melting last year, rails start to buckle, electric cabling starts to buckle. We often say we’d like a climate like the Med, but people were soon complaining they were too hot – not just in the day but especially at night.

“It often takes a massive high-impact event to change attitudes to the climate – so let’s hope what’s been happening recently with extreme weather will raise the will to tackle the problem.” (BBC)