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UK on course for ‘more frequent’ heatwaves: Met Office


LONDON: The extreme heat experienced by the UK in 2022 will become more frequent and intense because of climate change, Britain’s Meteorological Office warned in a new study released Thursday (Jul 27).

The country crossed the 40 degrees Celsius threshold last year for the first time during an “unprecedented heatwave”.

“The chances of an event like this is really likely to increase rapidly,” said Mark Kendon, lead author of the State of UK Climate 2022 report.

The record temperature – of 40.3 degrees Celsius – and 2022 being a record warm year overall “were made more likely by human-induced climate change”, the report added.

Last year’s UK heatwave resulted in excessive deaths, wildfires, and the destruction of homes, as the government declared a national emergency.

The report found that nearly one in every four months over the last decade fell within the top ten warmest ever recorded. Just last month, the UK experienced the warmest June on record.

“All of these (events) are fitting into a pattern and we are seeing more frequent heatwaves, more intense heatwaves, and longer lasting heatwaves,” Kendon said.

Even in an optimistic, medium-emissions scenario, extreme temperatures will increase in frequency and 2022 would be considered a “cool” year by 2100, according to the report.

It also tracks how climate change is affecting the life cycles of certain species in the UK, threatening disruptions to natural cycles like pollination.

“Our data show that the seasons are changing and iconic species, from birds and bumblebees to flowers and trees, are forced to alter their patterns – they are the silent witnesses of climate change”, said phenologist Fritha West.

The likelihood of recurring extreme weather has raised concerns about the country’s lack of preparedness.

Experts, including the UK government’s own climate advisors, have warned that current policies to meet climate change mitigation commitments do not go far enough.

The Met Office report comes days after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hinted at the possibility of watering down some so-called green policies after a London by-election result indicated voter resistance to extending a scheme taxing the most polluting vehicles.

Mike Childs, head of science at Friends of the Earth, said the report reinforces “that there is an urgent need for measures that will both cut emissions and ensure we’re braced for the extreme weather we cannot now prevent”.


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