Most detailed picture yet of UK's future climate
The UK’s most comprehensive picture yet of how the climate could change over the next century was yesterday launched by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
The UK Climate Projections 2018 (UKCP18) include:
- UK’s most comprehensive projections of climate change
- Data gives most detailed picture yet of temperature, rainfall and sea level rise over next century
- Cutting-edge science to help businesses and homes plan for the future
Using the latest science from the Met Office and around the world, the UK Climate Projections 2018 illustrate a range of future climate scenarios until 2100 – showing increasing summer temperatures, more extreme weather and rising sea levels are all on the horizon and urgent international action is needed.
To help homes and businesses plan for the future, the results set out a range of possible outcomes over the next century based on different rates of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. The high emission scenario shows:
- Summer temperatures could be up to 5.4 °C hotter by 2070, while winters could be up to 4.2 °C warmer
- The chance of a summer as hot as 2018 is around 50 % by 2050
- Sea levels in London could rise by up to 1.15 metres by 2100
- Average summer rainfall could decrease by up to 47 % by 2070, while there could be up to 35 % more precipitation in winter
Sea levels are projected to rise over the 21st century and beyond under all emission scenarios – meaning we can expect to see an increase in both the frequency and magnitude of extreme water levels around the UK coastline. Even in the low emission scenario, the projections show the UK’s average yearly temperature could be up to 2.3 °C higher by the end of the century.
The UK already leads the world in tackling climate change – with emissions reduced by more than 40 % since 1990. However these projections show a future we could face without further action.
UKCP18 can now be used as a tool to guide decision-making and boost resilience – whether that’s through increasing flood defences, designing new infrastructure or adjusting ways of farming for drier summers.
Speaking from the Science Museum in London, Environment Secretary Michael Gove yesterday said: "This cutting-edge science opens our eyes to the extent of the challenge we face, and shows us a future we want to avoid.
“The UK is already a global leader in tackling climate change, cutting emissions by more than 40 % since 1990 – but we must go further.
“By having this detailed picture of our changing climate, we can ensure we have the right infrastructure to cope with weather extremes, homes and businesses can adapt, and we can make decisions for the future accordingly.”
Yesterday’s projections are the first major update of climate projections in nearly 10 years, building on the success of UKCP09 and ensuring the most up-to-date scientific evidence informs decision-making.
With climate change a global challenge, for the first time, UKCP presents international projections, allowing other nations to use this data to gauge future risks for food supply chains, or check rainfall projections for the likelihood of localised flooding.
Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser Ian Boyd said: “Climate change will affect everybody. UKCP18 is designed to help everybody make better decisions, from those buying a house to people making large investments in infrastructure. It has been produced using state-of-the-art methods.”
Met Office Chief Scientist Stephen Belcher said: “The new science in UKCP18 enables us to move from looking at the trends associated with climate change, to describing how seasonal weather patterns will change. For example, heatwaves like the one we experienced in the summer of 2018 could be normal for the UK by mid-century.”
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