UK may face a series of extreme heatwaves, new study has suggested

UK summer temperatures could rise significantly faster than the average rate of global warming, according to a study published in Environmental Research Letters.

Researchers from the University of Bristol and East Anglia drew on datasets from the Met Office’s UK Climate Projections, specifically UKCP18, which contains global climate projections from around the world.

By comparing the modelled heat extremes to observational datasets, the researchers were able to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the UKCP18 simulations.

They found that UK summer temperatures, and extreme hot days, are projected to warm up to 50% faster than the average rate of global warming.

Between 2016 and 2019 there were more than 3,400 excess deaths in England as a result of heatwaves. As temperatures continue to increase, this death rate is expected to also increase.

The research team are now exploring how to work with regional policymakers to understand the implications at localised socio-economic levels. The findings will also inform a concurrent research project, which aims to use projections to model a range of impacts for the UK associated with climate change.

Dr Alan Kennedy-Asser, the lead author of the study, said: ‘Faster rates of warming in extremes compared to the global average temperatures have been shown in research before, however, this evaluation of UKCP18 suggests these new simulations are particularly effective at simulating the UK’s recent summer heat extremes.

‘This increases confidence in the suitability of these model projections and provides some of the clearest evidence that this amplification of summer extremes is happening in the UK.

‘So often the conversation about climate change revolves around the global average temperature – such as the Paris Agreement targets of limiting warming to 1.5 or 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

‘Seeing these results really hits home as unlike the global average temperature, which is hard to relate to, we have likely all experienced the recent hot summers and can imagine how these changes might impact us.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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Pippa Neill

Pippa Neill

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