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article imageGlobal warming: UK forecasted a summer of extreme downpours

By Katherine Ogilvie     Jun 20, 2014 in Environment
New study warns that downpours could become a characteristic of the British summer if the effects of global warming and climate change continue.
Extreme bursts of downpours and increased risk of flash flooding is forecasted for summer in the UK this year. The Met Office and Newcastle University published a study in the Nature and Climate Change Journal reporting “short duration rain events are predicted to intensify during summer months in the southern United Kingdom.”
Another report states “the role of human influence on our climate is already detectable on summertime heat waves and the character of UK rainfall.” According to scientists, thanks to global warming the UK is set for wetter, milder winters and hotter, drier summers. The weather will also become more unpredictable with high variability. For example, very cold winters and very wet summers are likely to occur, explaining the rainfall in winter 2013/14 and the drought in early 2012.
Despite the winter flooding earlier in the year, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson cut his department’s funding for climate change adaption by nearly half in January. Arguably, the opposite of what should be occurring, these extreme weather changes call for adapting infrastructure and agriculture to minimise damages. This means ceasing to build on flood plains, reducing water consumption in anticipation of droughts and ensuring infrastructure is maintained and protected from flooding. Investing in preventative measures such as water reserves, flood and coastal defences will be key, rather than spending millions on clean up and waste. Tim Sissons, Managing Director of William Morfoot who specialise in effective land drainage systems said, “The need for managing watercourse infrastructure on farms and estates has never been more apparent.”
With January and February’s rainfall at its heaviest since records began in 1766 it flooded over 6,000 properties, roads and railways and also fields, ruining homes, transportation and crops. Costs of damages are predicted to have amounted to at least £1 billion.
Thousands of acres of farmland was submerged for weeks leading to Britain harvesting it’s smallest wheat crop for over ten years and the increase of disease in crops. This won’t have a huge effect on the UK’s crops however as we rely on exports but it still gives an insightful picture into the level of damage caused to farmers who rely on a good harvest for the year.
As the Guardian have pointed out in their extensive Climate Change FAQ, “despite years of negotiations, world leaders haven’t yet managed to reach a follow-up agreement that would see emissions reduced rapidly and steeply enough to provide a good chance of limiting the global temperature rise to 2C — a target that more than 100 governments signed up to in late 2009 as part of the Copenhagen accord.” Although this is a start, it is clear that more action needs to be taken in order for actual change to come about.
More about Global warming, Climate change, Global climate change
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