UK heatwave: Is climate change a factor?
- Heatwaves are common in UK summer when high pressure develops across an area
- Southern England will have temperatures in the high 20s in the coming days
- There is a possibility of the hottest day of the year so far in the UK occurring this week
The UK and continental Europe are witnessing a heatwave with temperatures soaring to 32 degrees Celsius. The Met Office, the national weather service of the UK, issued a rare 'Amber Weather Warning' covering most of England and half of Wales.
"Exceptionally high temperatures" are possible from Sunday, July 17, lasting into early next week, the Met said. Amber Warning is usually issued in order to warn residents of impacts caused by severe weather. The warnings are provided up to seven days ahead for rain, thunderstorms, wind, snow, lightning, ice, extreme heat and fog.
According to the Met Office, heatwaves are common in summer when high pressure develops across an area. The UK is vulnerable to such conditions due to the location of the jet stream –a core of strong winds, which is usually to the north of the UK in the summer.
Slower jet streams allow high pressure to develop over the UK, resulting in persistent dry and settled weather.
Annie Shuttleworth at the Met Office told local media that southern England will have temperatures in the high 20s. Temperatures will be close to 40 to 45 degrees Celsius across France and Spain. The UK will receive some of the heat in the wake of a southerly wind.
There is a possiblity of the hottest day of the year so far in the UK occurring this week. The temperature may surpass the 32.7 degrees Celsius recorded at Heathrow on June 17.
The Met Office had conducted a scientific study into the Summer 2018 heatwave in the UK, which revealed that experiencing a summer as hot or hotter than 2018 is a little over one in 10.
The study revealed that due to the higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it is 30 times more likely for heat waves to occur. The heatwaves may occur as regularly as every other year by the 2050s.
Dr Friederiko Otto of Imperial College London said that when it comes to summer heat, climate change is a complete game changer, he told the Guardian. It has already turned what would once have been called "exceptional heat into very frequent summer conditions." The fossil fuel burning over the last decades have caused every heatwave experienced today to become hotter than before.
Heatwaves cause threat to public health as they may result in heatstroke and dehydration, which are the main risks to health, particularly affecting children and elderly people. Heatwaves can also have a significant impact on mental health, Dr Laurence Wainwright of the University of Oxford said.
According to the Met Office, adverse health effects include sunburn, heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses.