20 September 2010

The impact of climate change in the UK

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There is still time to reduce the impact we are having on climate change if we act now. But if we don't, the unpredictable weather variations we are already experiencing will become more severe.
The effects of climate change can be seen in our every day lives. Weather patterns are becoming increasingly disrupted and unpredictable and significant warming trends have been seen over the last century. During the last 40 years, the UK's winters have grown warmer, with heavier bursts of rain. The summers are growing drier and hotter - one of the starkest changes over the last 200 years is our summers have become drier causing widespread water shortages. The last 6 years have been the warmest years since records began1 . And during August 2003, the hottest temperature ever recorded in the UK was taken in Brogdale in Kent. It was 38.5°C.

Slowly but surely, much of the UK is experiencing extreme climates more associated with our European neighbours. The Thames barrier was raised on average three times a year until 2001, a year in which it was raised 15 times. By 2030, it is expected that it will need to be raised 30 times per year.

Many gardeners are finding their lawns need mowing in winter and snowdrops are blooming before Christmas, as winters grow milder; with fewer frosts, cold snaps and snowfalls. Spring is arriving earlier and autumn later - the growing season for plants in the UK has expanded by about a month since 1900.

However flooding is a looming threat over much of the country. Severe storms and rising seas - some 10cm higher than sea level in 1900 are slowly eating away at our coastline. As rainfall comes down in deluges, rivers are bursting their banks more often, with flashfloods becoming a more common occurrence. The floods experienced in the UK during the summer of 2007 were the result of the heaviest rainfall since records began3 . The financial implications of climate change were highlighted in a recent report by the Association of British Insurers which predicts an 8%, 14% and 25% increase respectively for inland flooding insurance costs for a 2, 4 and 6 centigrade increase in temperature

(energy saving trust)

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