Get ready for 104F: Scientists warn Britain could see frequent heatwaves of 40C in the next decade
- Scientific modelling suggests UK could experience heatwaves of 40C in 10 years
- This would put increased pressure on water resources, livestock and crops
- 40C temperatures are ten times more likely than before global warming began
Scientists have predicted that if carbon emissions continue to rise, the UK could see frequent heatwaves of 40C in just 10 years time, due to global warming.
With last week’s heatwave reaching a high of 32.2C on Tuesday at Heathrow Airport, experts warned that extremely hot weather can have serious consequences including water shortages and thousands dying from the heat.
Speaking to The Times, Chloe Brimicombe, a heatwave hazards researcher at the University of Reading, predicted that Southern England could experience its first 40-degree day ‘within the next ten years’.
Scientists have predicted that we should prepare for temperatures to reach up to 40C in Britain in the next decade, due to global warming. Pictured: Sunbathers in Dorset enjoying the UK’s latest heatwave
She said: ‘Most of our rail network would not be able to run in those sorts of temperatures.
‘We would see increased pressure on water resources, productivity would be reduced, and it could affect our livestock and our crops.’
In order to prepare for this scenario, Ms Brimicombe advises putting shutters on windows, installing air cooling systems in homes as well as planting trees for more shade.
According to Public Health England, three heatwaves last summer killed a total of 2,556 people in England, 2,244 of whom were over 65.
Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, estimates that last week’s heatwave likely resulted in 1,000 deaths.
He said: ‘Other hotter countries do not see the same mortality that we do. But this is going to become more frequent and we need to start to prepare. At 40C even healthy people will not survive. Construction workers, agriculture workers — anyone who is working outdoors is at risk.’
A Met Office study published in June last year, revealed that under the worst high emissions scenario the UK could see 40C days every three to four years by the end of the century.
Experts have warned that extremely hot weather can have serious consequences for a country like Britain, including water shortages and thousands dying from the heat
If emissions are reduced under a medium-emissions scenario, the future probabilities of the UK reaching 40C in 2100 are expected to be once every 15 years.
Lead author of the study, Dr Nikolaos Christidis said that the chances of a 40C day are now ten times more likely in the current climate than before global warming began.
He said: ”We found that the likelihood of extremely hot days in the UK has been increasing and will continue to do so during the course of the century, with the most extreme temperatures expected to be observed in the south east of England.
‘Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the UK. The chances of seeing 40C days in the UK could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence.
‘The likelihood of exceeding 40C anywhere in the UK in a given year has also been rapidly increasing, and, without curbing of greenhouse gas emissions, such extremes could be taking place every few years in the climate of 2100.’