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expert reaction to the hot weather we’re having

High temperatures are expected today (Friday 7th August), with it reaching the mid to high 30s in parts of London.


Dr Dann Mitchell, Met Office Joint Chair in Climate Hazards, University of Bristol

“We know that the climate is warming, primarily from increased CO2 in the atmosphere, so the strength and frequency of heatwaves will increase. That includes increased changes of consecutive ‘compound’ heatwaves, as we are seeing at the moment, and this will become common place over the coming decades.

“In cities we must be most aware, as they can ’trap’ heat, leading to far higher temperatures than the surrounding rural areas. In our largest European cities we expect more than 0.8C increase in temperature per decade.  To put that in context, fifty years from now, London, instead of warming to 34C in the coming days, would warm to 38C – and probably more as London is projected to grow in size.

“The occurrence of this heatwave during the COVID crisis is particularly worrying, especially for the numerous workers that now need to be in full personal protective equipment, often trapping the heat and humidity to cause high levels of over heating, which can lead to heat stroke. Organisations should put regular water breaks in place to allow these workers to take off the PPE, and cool down, otherwise we could have a serious heat-health concern.”


Dr Radhika Khosla, Senior Research at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, said:

“Due to global warming, record-breaking heat is becoming the new normal in the UK. But the UK is unprepared for these temperatures. This means more air conditioning units will be bought and working at full-blast, and that’s bad news for the environment. Cooling takes a huge amount of energy, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately further climate change and more extreme heat. As global temperatures rise, the energy needed for cooling is predicted to surpass the total energy needed for heating, leading to a vicious cycle of warming.

“To keep cool while saving energy try opening the windows, using a fan (which uses much less energy), wearing loose, light-coloured clothing, drinking water, staying in the shade or drawing the curtains against the sun. If you definitely need the air-con, make sure to buy the most efficient one and keep the windows closed – otherwise your bills will rise dramatically and the system won’t work efficiently.”


Dr Friederike Otto, Acting Director of the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, said:

“Climate change is a real game changer when it comes to heatwaves like the one we are experiencing today – making them more intense and more frequent. How much more depends on the heatwave.

“Last summer, a study from our World Weather Attribution team found that the UK’s July 2019 heatwave was made at least twice as likely due to climate change. In fact, every heat wave analysed in Europe has shown signs of climate change impact. High heat is dangerous, especially for those who are elderly, unwell, or already vulnerable, and this climate change impact is already being felt here in the UK.”


Prof Ilan Kelman, Professor of Disasters and Health, University College London, said:

“These temperatures are unfortunately in line with the expectations for heat under climate change, which is one of the most concerning health impacts. Without stopping human-caused climate change, these levels of summer heat (and humidity) will become regular, making it highly dangerous for us to be outdoors – and even indoors without continual cooling. Air pollution can also worsen under heat with its knock-on health effects, such as for cancer and asthma.

“Irrespective of urban heat islands and natural climate variabilities, the human signal in climate change is showing in these heat patterns.”


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