First-ever Red Extreme Heat Warning Issued in UK, National Emergency Declared
Temperatures of 40°C have been forecasted for the first time in the island nation
A Red Alert, which is used when a heatwave is so intense and/or pervasive that its effects go beyond the reach of the health and social care systems has also been issued by UK Health Security Agency.
At this point, not just high-risk groups but also fit and healthy people are susceptible to sickness and death.
"Exceptional heat is expected to affect a large part of England early next week, with temperatures likely in the high 30°s C in some places and perhaps even reaching 40°C," the weather forecast office stated.
Parts of central, northern, eastern, and southeastern England will be covered by the Red Extreme Heat national severe weather warning on 18 and 19 July.
"The hottest locations are likely to be in parts of central and eastern England," the Met Office said.
The UK's current highest recorded temperature is 38.7°C, which was attained on 25 July 2019, at Cambridge Botanic Garden.
Effect of Climate Change
"Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the UK," Climate attribution scientist at the Met Office, Dr Nikos Christidis, said.
"The chances of seeing 40°C days in the UK could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence," Nikos added.
The scientist said that the likelihood of any location in the UK seeing temperatures above 40°C in a given year has also been rising quickly. In fact, even with existing pledges to reduce emissions.
"Even with current pledges on emissions reductions, such extremes could be taking place every 15 years in the climate of 2100," Nikos claimed.
The Met Office stated that extreme heat events happen as part of natural climatic volatility due to changes in global weather patterns. However, it noted that there is no doubt that the observed global warming and human activity are related to the rise in the frequency, length, and intensity of these occurrences during the past few decades.
A Global Concern
Back in 2015, the international community agreed that warming beyond 1.5°C would cause devastation on an intolerable scale and adopted the Paris Agreement which sought to limit temperature increases since pre-industrial levels to well below 2°C, with 1.5°C as a goal.
However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2022 report stated that there is "at least a greater than 50% likelihood that global warming will reach or exceed 1.5°C in the near-term, even for the very low greenhouse gas emissions scenario".
According to the IPCC report, human-induced climate change has had broad negative effects, including more frequent and powerful extreme occurrences, beyond the effects of natural climate variability.
"Near-term actions that limit global warming to close to 1.5°C would substantially reduce projected losses and damages related to climate change in human systems and ecosystems, compared to higher warming levels, but cannot eliminate them all," the report stated.
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