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expert reaction to the State of the UK Climate report

The State of the UK Climate 2020 report has been published in the International Journal of Climatology.

This Roundup accompanied an SMC Briefing.


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

“The UK State of the Climate report confirms what we already know: Human-caused climate change is here and is affecting our weather. Weather does not need to mean a disaster. The report is very much a call to ensure that we act now to stop people dying and infrastructure being damaged in weather, which we can do by implementing long-successful techniques. Houses in current floodplains can be built or retrofitted to withstand flood water, while using more green spaces in our cities can stop floodplains from expanding even as rainfall increases. Storing water for droughts needs to be planned now to avoid future shortages. One devastating difficulty is heat and humidity. We are on track for highly lethal heat waves where the main survival option is indoor cooling, which uses a lot of energy and which much of the UK lacks anyway.”


Prof William Collins, Professor of Meteorology, University of Reading, said:

“Through the emissions of greenhouse gases we have increased temperatures globally by 1.2 degrees. This report from the Met Office brings home what impact this global change had on us here in the UK. It confirms our understanding that extreme weather events such as heatwaves and rain storms are changing faster than the average conditions. The UK’s weather is likely to become even more extreme as global temperatures rise. Governments have pledged to pursue efforts to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees. Failure to do so will cause worldwide climate impacts, and we will not be immune in the UK.”


Prof Richard Allan, climate scientist, University of Reading, said:

“This meticulously compiled report reminds us how the exceptionally sunny spring over southern parts of the UK during the first lockdown of 2020 followed the wettest February on record and that, despite the large month to month fluctuations we experience in the UK’s weather patterns, a clear signal of climate change has emerged. Very wet periods and associated flooding are becoming more severe as higher greenhouse gas levels warm the air, increasing moisture that fuels storms. A more thirsty atmosphere also dries the ground more effectively, intensifying the already hotter hot spells and making our weather more extreme.”


Dr Ella Gilbert, Post-doctoral research assistant, University of Reading, said:

“This latest report is a reminder that climate change is happening here, it’s happening now and it’s happening to all of us.

“We are already seeing the effects of climate change on our weather and these will become more and more extreme as the climate warms further. The diversity of extremes we saw in 2020 is testament to how climate change leaves no stone unturned in the climate system – we had the sunniest spring on record after the wettest ever February, followed by one of the most significant heatwaves in the last 60 years. All of these have real consequences – from flood damage to lost crops and lost lives.

“The longer we put off decisive action on climate change, the more damaging these impacts will be – with tangible impacts for us all.”


Prof Chris Hilson, director of the Reading Centre for Climate and Justice, University of Reading:

“The Met Office report mentions some key named storms which produced significant damage across the UK in 2020, including storm Ciara and Dennis. These names are often public talking points in the same way as Covid variants have become – first named after countries or counties of origin and now, of course, letters of the Greek alphabet. The Greek alphabet somehow seems more serious than a storm called Dennis. While the levity of some storm names may chime well with the British sense of humour, the Government should nevertheless be treating these extreme weather events associated with climate change as seriously as new Covid variants. Both require an emergency response with concrete action.”



‘State of the UK Climate 2020’ by Mike Kendon et al. was published in the International Journal of Climatology at 00:01 UK time on Thursday 29 July 2021.

DOI: 10.1002/joc.7285



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