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expert reaction to rapid response report looking at climate change attribution of the July UK heatwave

A report issued by World Weather Attribution looks at climate change attribution of the UK heatwave in July.


Prof Peter Stott, Science Fellow in Climate Attribution, Met Office, said:

“Today’s attribution study has reinforced recent Met Office research – published before this summer and the recent heatwave – showing the potential for temperatures in the UK to hit 40C or more in the current climate.  Thankfully, temperatures this hot in the UK will probably remain a scarcity in the next few years, but sadly our climate projections show that this won’t be the last time that we’ll be talking about such extraordinary extremes.  Temperatures above 40C will occur again, possibly in the next few years and very likely over the next few decades.  Only by curtailing greenhouse gas emissions can we reduce the risks of such extremes becoming more and more frequent.”


Dr Radhika Khosla, Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, said:

“By carrying out rapid analysis based on established, peer-reviewed methods the WWA team are able to get evidence-based results into the public domain while we can all still remember the major disruptions from last week’s extreme heat.  This is the latest in a series of studies that all show the same result: climate change makes heatwaves more likely and more intense.

“The level of heat the U.K. is now experiencing is dangerous: it puts strain on our infrastructure, economy, food and education systems, and on our bodies.  As the study points out, many homes in the UK become uninhabitable in extreme heat.

“Adapting to rising temperatures, building heat resilience with sustainable approaches, and protecting people is an urgent priority as unprecedented temperatures become the norm.”


Prof Tim Palmer, Royal Society Research Professor, University of Oxford, said:

“There is very little doubt that human induced climate change is making UK heat waves more likely.  You would have to be an ostrich with your head buried in the sand to think otherwise.  However, I have substantial misgivings about quantitative estimates of this increase in likelihood made using current generation climate models.  Because current generation climate models have significantly lower spatial resolution than operational weather forecast models, their representation of the regional circulation pattens associated with extreme heat waves is poor.  As such these quantitative estimates are likely to be quite unreliable (as hinted at in the press release).  At the least we need to estimate error bars on such estimates – though this is not straightforward.  However, ultimately we need to dedicate one of the new generation of exascale supercomputers to climate modelling, allowing the resolution of climate models to increase significantly.  This could be achieved at a kind of international “CERN for Climate Change”.”



‘Without human-caused climate change temperatures of 40˚C in the UK would have been extremely unlikely’ by Mariam Zachariah author et al. is a ‘rapid response’ was published by the World Weather Attribution group at 23:01 UK time on Thursday 28 July 2022.



Declared interests

Prof Peter Stott has co-ordinated with WWA on previous work and a Met Office colleague was involved with the WWA study.

Prof Tim Palmer: “None.”

For all other experts, no reply to our request for DOIs was received.

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