The Meteorological Office (Met Office) said that temperature of up to 40C could be a regular occurrence in the UK by the end of the century if carbon emissions remain high.
A new study by the Met Office indicated that the UK may experience regular temperature of up to 40C by 2100 if carbon emissions stay at high levels. Currently, the highest recorded temperature is at 38.7C, set in Cambridge last July.
According to the researchers, there is an “increasing likelihood” of going beyond this number due to the human influence on the climate. They mentioned that under the worst emissions scenario, temperatures could reach 40C every three and a half years.
Across the UK and Europe, there have been periods of significant and uncomfortable heat over the past two summers. The Met Office pointed out that these hot summers occurred partly as a result of warming gases coming from human activities.
They mentioned that it was more likely that the 2018 heatwave was caused by the use of energy, transport and all the other carbon that humans have been producing.
The new modeling study revealed that this human impact on UK temperatures is going to continue.
The report stated: “We find that the likelihood of extremely warm days in the UK has been increasing and will continue to do so during the course of the century with the most extreme temperatures expected to be observed in the South-East of England.”
The researchers said that the scale of the impact will still depend on people. Currently, the probability of any part of the UK hitting 40C is extremely low and could only occur once every 100 to 350 years.
However, this could significantly change by the end of the century depending on the amount of carbon emissions. They argued that the chances of hitting that high mark are “rapidly accelerating” with a 40C day occurring every 3.5 years, under a very high emissions scenario.
Professor Peter Stott from the Met Office, one of the study’s authors, explained: “If we think about the climate that we would have had, had we not emitted any greenhouse gases, and something like 40C looks looks well nigh impossible, because it is so extreme.”
“But now we’ve already entered this scenario where we can see over 38C as we saw last summer, and increasingly the chances of seeing 40C become ever higher if we continue emitting greenhouse gases,” he added.
Prof. Stott pointed out that both the very high and the medium carbon projections used indicate a considerable chance of hitting 40C. Even the lower estimate would significantly increase the chances of 40C compared to the present.
Although mercury doesn’t go beyond the 40C mark, consistent high temperatures would have serious effects on elderly people.
“I think the main risk really is to vulnerable people, particularly elderly people who are vulnerable to such extremes,” Stott said.
He added: “And when we’re looking at extremes that we haven’t seen before, then it’s something to take very seriously because the buildings, the care homes, the homes that people are living in, are not necessarily adapted for such temperatures.”