The UK has been in the grip of polarised extreme weather fronts in recent weeks. Storm Francis is now lashing the country with gusts reaching almost 80mph. Homes have been flooded, campers rescued, and road and rail travel disrupted amid the severe weather.
Warnings remain in place for rain and wind around the UK, with more than 80mm of rainfall in the Lake District.
The scene couldn’t be further from just weeks ago when most of the country experienced heat in excess of 30C.
London was particularly badly hit by the heat as the city saw the longest stretch of high temperatures in almost six decades.
The Met Office said temperatures exceeded 34C in the city for six days in a row – the first time that has happened since at least 1961.
Weather like this, Dr Bonnie Waring, senior Lecturer at the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, warned, will be more commonplace in the future.
She explained: “In the near future we still have the capacity to transition to a zero carbon economy and thereby limit the degree of change that we see over the coming century.
“If we achieve that goal, we will still see changes in climate because of the carbon that we’ve added to the atmosphere already.
“So we can expect by the end of this century we’ll have some level of sea level rise.
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“We’ll see an increase in heavy rainfall, and we’re going to see more frequent heatwaves. That’s even if we steered our economy to zero carbon tomorrow.
“But, if we continue on our current path, business as usual, all of those consequences could become much more severe. So we could see up to a metre of sea level rise in the UK which would put large parts of the low lying coast underwater.
“We see a much bigger increase in heavy rainfall events.
“And by 2100 we would have a 90 percent chance each year of severe heatwaves.”
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As things stand, the UK is currently locked into a temperature increase of between 0.5C and 1C by 2050.
This is an irreversible fact caused by carbon dioxide output in the years leading up to the present day.
If global greenhouse gas emissions are brought rapidly to net zero in the second half of this century, UK temperatures and rainfall could be kept close to this 2050 level in 2100.
However, should moves towards reducing this output not be fulfilled, then the UK could see its temperatures soaring by an additional 2C to 3C from today by the year 2100.
The point at which sea level rise exceeds one metre for the UK will also come much sooner; this could even take place within the next 100 years.
Britain has made considerable advances in reducing its reliance on fossil fuel-based energies.
In 2018 alone, the proportion of electricity generated by renewables in the UK grew to 33 percent.
Currently, the Government plans to phase out coal entirely by 2025.
Renewable energy percentage is expected to grow to about 75 percent by 2030.
It is thought that countries like the UK must switch entirely to renewables by the end of the decade in order to make any significant steps towards curbing temperature increase.
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