UK weather: Extreme heatwave events to increase says professor
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Heatwaves are set to more than double in duration after a one-degree increase in temperatures across the UK, an expert has warned. Professor Liz Bentley, Chief Executive at the Royal Meteorological Society, explained heatwaves have jumped from an average of five days to 13 days. Speaking to GB News, professor Bentley said: “The temperature records are quite stark and the warmest years have happened since the turn of the century.
“Our top 10 records have been broken in the last 20 years and we’ve seen a one-degree warming in the last 50 years.
“One degree doesn’t sound like very much but it means we’re going to see more extreme heatwave events.
“The frequency of heatwaves are going to increase, the duration will increase.
“We’ve noticed over the last 30 years the duration has gone from about five days on average to 13 days on average to having extreme heat events.
“We’re starting to see more tropical nights which is where the temperature doesn’t drop below 20C.”
She added: “Temperatures in the UK could top 40C in the next decade. Small changes in the average temperature mean some really big changes to the extreme heatwaves such as heatwaves and flooding that we’re likely to see ongoing in the future.”
It comes as the UK needs to prepare for both floods and droughts becoming more common and invest in “more capacity to store water when it rains”, an infrastructure expert has said.
The call comes on the day that leading meteorologists have warned that the UK will see an increase in extreme weather events due to the climate crisis.
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Data published in the report The State Of The UK Climate 2020 revealed last year was the third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest year on record – the first ever to fall into the top 10 for all three variables.
National Infrastructure Commission chairman Sir John Armitt told Radio 4’s World at One programme about the need to prepare for more floods and drought after being asked about recent flash flooding in the UK.
He said: “It is not only floods, we face drought of course, and we have got to get used to using less water, everyone of us at the same time, as we need to invest in more capacity to store the water when it rains.”
The commission chaired by Sir John has said the Government will only meet its climate change obligations if it commits to using new technology to reduce carbon.
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But when asked if the new technology could include spraying sea water into the atmosphere, mirrors reflecting sunlight in space, or other proposed solutions, Sir John described these as “fanciful”.
He said the Government instead needed to encourage the uptake of existing technology which would help reduce carbon emissions.
Sir John said: “Some of these future ones do seem to be rather fanciful.”
He added: “There are lots of uncertainties, which is why, in a sense, the most important thing we can do is deal with those things we do know, for example the electrification of vehicles, and make sure that the opportunity is there for everyone in the next 10 years get to grips with having an electric car instead of a petrol one.”
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