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

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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.

 

 

Polar Bear Sculpture Floats Down Thames

Editor’s note: On occasion, we bring you press releases about interesting events around the world. We received the following release from UKTV in London:

London, 26th January 2009: A 16 foot high sculpture of an iceberg featuring a stranded female polar bear and her baby cub was launched on the River Thames today providing Londoners with a timely reminder of the dangers of global warming.

The sculpture, which was specially commissioned to mark the launch of Eden, a new digital TV channel devoted to natural history, graphically brought to life one of the most iconic images of climate change – the melting ice caps.

A life-like 16ft high sculpture of an iceberg featuring a stranded polar bear and its cub was launched on the Thames today to mark the launch of the new Natural History TV channel Eden

A life-like 16ft high sculpture of an iceberg featuring a stranded polar bear and its cub was launched on the Thames today to mark the launch of the new Natural History TV channel Eden

A team of 15 artists spent two months constructing the 20 ft. by 20 ft. square structure, which was launched in Greenwich, South East London at 6:30am, before travelling up the Thames to stop beside Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament for a national photocall. The structure weighing 1.5 tonnes was winched into place in freezing temperatures, before travelling 7.5 miles along the Thames.

The melting of the ice caps will not only affect the polar bears, there will also be serious repercussions for the two billion people who depend on the glacial meltwater that feeds their rivers. The polar bears’ presence in London highlights these issues which will also be addressed in Eden’s Fragile Earth series which will run throughout the week.

Broadcaster and eminent wildlife conservationist, Sir David Attenborough says: “The melting of the polar bears’ sea ice habitat is one of the most pressing environmental concerns of our time. I commend Eden for highlighting the issue; we need to do what we can to protect the world’s largest land carnivores from extinction.”

Eden’s Channel Head, Adrian Wills, says: “The Earth is a fragile place and we were keen to launch with a message that would draw attention to the uncertain state of our finely balanced environment. Our aim is to reflect one amazing world, with one amazing channel that can address issues like climate change whilst providing an entertaining, informative experience by airing a range of high-end premieres, landmark natural history programmes and first class wildlife documentaries.”

The Eden sculpture is certified as 100% recyclable by the Set Salvage Company authorised by the Mayor of London’s office.

The Eden sculpture is certified as 100% recyclable by the Set Salvage Company authorised by the Mayor of London’s office.

Now the polar bears’ have finished their journey along the Thames, they will be taking the message about global warming to Hampstead Heath as well as key cities across the UK including Birmingham and Glasgow.

Eden’s programming starts at 9am, Monday 26th January 2009, with Attenborough Explores…Our Fragile World at 10pm. A programme schedule for the new, digital, Natural History channel Eden can be found online.

Eden goes live at 9am on 26th January with a schedule packed full of high-end premieres. From the scale and beauty of Superstorm, Ganges and Wild China to the revelation and intimacy of Tribe (series 3), Elephant Diaries (series 2) and Tribal Wives – that will play alongside landmark series such as Planet Earth, Ray Mears’ Extreme Survival, Life of Mammals and Full Circle with Michael Palin. A complementary Eden website goes live on the same day.

Eden can be found on:
Sky Channel: 532
Virgin TV Channel: 208

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

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