Notes from the UK: Climate Change Is Here

November 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Climate Change, Flood, Front Page, Notes from the UK, Slideshow, UK

Heavy flooding has taken its toll in the UK this year. Photo:  qbik, Creative Commons flickr.com/photos/sussertod/

Heavy flooding has taken its toll in the UK this year. Photo: qbik, Creative Commons

It’s fair to say that everyone has noticed the weather changes here in the UK — the heavy rainfalls, gale force winds, flooding, and even the reduction in snow. Every year, we notice more visible changes to the climate — which many believe is the result of climate change — and they appear to be getting progressively worse with each new year.

Flooding

Heavy rainfall for extended periods is expected to increase the flood risk in the coming years. We have witnessed freak levels of flooding already this year, especially during September. With major flooding throughout the country, holidaymakers in Wales had to be airlifted to safety, and homes in the south of Devon were flooded. Northern areas of the country, such as York and Newcastle, didn’t get off lightly either, with many residents claiming to have experienced the most severe flooding in recent memory.

In fact, Meteogroup released figures showing a 14.25 inch (362mm) rainfall in June, July ,and August, making 2012 the wettest summer seen in the UK since 1912. One explanation is that the flooding is due to unusual circulation patterns in the atmosphere, which can sometimes become fixed on a certain cycle. Depending on whether the circulation is pointing away or towards the country, this can either lead to the UK experiencing excessively dry or wet conditions. This theory could certainly go some way to explaining the drastic alterations in weather that have been experienced in recent times.

Higher Seas and Climbing Temperatures

Sea level has increased by ten centimetres since 1900. This is making seaside properties prone to flooding, and houses situated on the edge of the coast are at heavy risk of coastal erosion. The average sea level is expected to increase by fifty-nine centimetres by the end of this century.

In addition, both land and sea temperatures are on the increase, with coastal water temperatures rising around 0.7 degrees Celsius higher over the past three decades.

The combination of high winds, warmer waters, and increased sea levels have effectively made areas like the Southwest coast of England more attractive to Bluefin tuna, stingrays, thresher sharks, and other marine life, all of which normally enjoy the warmer waters of Southern Europe. Simultaneously, however, sea birds, such as kittiwake, are experiencing poorer breeding patterns, and the success of their survival is under scrutiny as their populations decline.

Weather

There was very little snow in many parts of the country this past winter. Years ago you couldn’t open your door because the snow had built up so high overnight, but now a small dusting gets washed away quickly by rain in most areas. Overall temperatures have increased in the past four to five years and it’s anticipated that we can expect these temperatures to rise by more than three degrees Celsius.

The entire globe is feeling the effects of climate change, and these are the key areas where I feel the UK is noticing the change. For the first time in many a year, residents in the UK were actually worried about drought, and certain areas were put on water restrictions. The dry spell was quickly followed by too much rain, which caused widespread devastation to homes, crops and businesses, which in turn cost the country billions.

Moving forward, it’s very likely that these conditions will worsen. Living within the UK, it’s too easy to assume that “everything will be OK”, as we don’t live in a country that experiences freak weather. It’s already heading that way, however, and we need to prepare ourselves. This can only be achieved when the government starts taking climate change seriously and figures out how to tackle the onslaught of excessive rainfall and flooding in the future.

John Langford

Guest Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

John Langford is a writer and blogger for UK insurance service Policy Expert. He enjoys writing about the environment and home improvement, and is currently working a thesis about coastal erosion in the UK.

 

 

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