Record temperature of 40°C in UK linked to climate change: WMO |
In a statement, the WMO noted that the UK’s Met Office has, for the first time, issued a ‘red warning’ for exceptional heat and predicts temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) on Monday and Tuesday.
For the first time, temperatures of 40C have been predicted in the UK and the UK MetOffice has issued the first ever red warning for exceptional events. #Heat wave. In Portugal and Spain, temperatures peaked around 46 degrees Celsius. Details here👇https://t.co/S4R5we1xsD… pic.twitter.com/HK4EwESAc9
— World Meteorological Organization (@WMO) July 18, 2022
The current record temperature in the UK is 38.7 degrees Celsius, reached just three years ago.
“Widespread impacts on people and infrastructure”
“Nights are also likely to be unusually warm, particularly in urban areas,” said Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen. “This will likely lead to widespread impacts on people and infrastructure. Therefore, it is important for people to plan for the heat and consider changing their routines. This level of heat can have adverse health effects.”
The heatwave also acts as a lid, trapping air pollutants, including particulates, leading to degraded air quality and adverse health effects, especially for vulnerable people, explained Lorenzo Labrador, chief scientist of the WMO Global Atmosphere Monitoring Programme.
“Similarly, the abundant sunshine, high concentrations of certain air pollutants, and stable atmosphere are conducive to episodes of near-surface ozone formation, which adversely affect people and plants,” he continued.
Dr Nikos Christidis, a climate attribution scientist at the Met Office, added that a recent study found the likelihood of extremely hot days in the UK has increased and will continue to do so over the course of the century.
“Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of extreme temperatures in the UK,” Dr Christidis said. “The likelihood of exceeding 40 degrees Celsius anywhere in the UK in any given year has also risen rapidly and, even with current promises to cut emissions, such extremes could occur every 15 years in the climate of 2100″.
Extreme heat events occur as part of natural climatic variations due to changes in global weather patterns. However, the WMO points out that the increase in frequency, duration and intensity of these events in recent decades is clearly linked to observed global warming and can be attributed to human activity.
The ravages of forest fires in southern Europe
News of the expected record highs in the northern European country broke amid massive wildfires in the continent’s southwest, which have claimed hundreds of lives and seen thousands evacuated from their homes.
In Portugal, temperatures have soared to highs of around 46C, and red warnings are in effect for much of the country as hot conditions increase the risk of wildfires.
More than 13,000 hectares of land were on fire in France’s Gironde region, and 15 of France’s 96 departments were on red alert and 51 on orange alert, with residents of these areas urged to be vigilant. The heat wave in western France is expected to peak on Monday, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius.
‘Half of humanity in danger zone’ says UN chief
In his video message at a high-profile climate event in Germany on Monday, UN chief António Guterres warned that “half of humanity is in the danger zone” in the face of floods, to drought, extreme storms and wildfires.
Addressing ministers from 40 nations in the city of Petersberg, Mr Guterres said the Paris Agreement 2015 objective of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, was already on respiratory assistance at the end of COP26 last November, and his “pulse has become even weaker”.
“Nations continue to play the blame game instead of taking responsibility for our collective future,” the Secretary-General said, calling on countries to rebuild trust and unite.
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