Brits are being warned to prepare for temperatures exceeding 40C during the summer months by the UK’s leading meteorologists.
The UK is starting to see increasingly extreme temperatures and it is unlikely to change, even if humanity is able to limit global warming to 1.5C.
Forecasters and meteorologists correctly predicted the heatwave in July which forced Public Health England to issue a heat health alert this week for the very first time.
Beaches, parks and other public spaces were packed as Brits enjoyed blistering heat with highs of 32C.
Health experts urged people to spend time in the shade, drink plenty of water and stop walking their dogs.
The year 2020 was the third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest year on record – the first ever to fall into the top 10 for all three variables.
Data published in the report The State Of The UK Climate 2020 revealed the average winter temperature for last year was 5.3C – 1.6C higher than the 1981 to 2010 average.
Professor Liz Bentley, chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, said the world was already seeing extreme heat as a result of warming of 1.1C to 1.2C above pre-industrial levels.
“If you take that up by another 0.3C, these (heatwaves) are just going to become much more intense – we’re likely to see 40C in the UK although we have never seen those kinds of temperatures (before),” she said.
“As we hit 1.5C of global warming, that’s going to not just become something that we see once or twice, it’ll start to become something that we see on a much more regular basis.”
Mike Kendon, climate scientist at the Met Office and lead author of the report, said the figures indicated a new normal for the UK.
“In seven out of the last 10 years, we’ve seen temperatures of 34C in the UK compared to seven out of the previous 50 years before that,” he said.
“So this is an indication of the fact that our baseline of our climate is changing and what we regard as normal is changing.”
He added that man-made global warming will last “for a very, very long time to come” with scientists at the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre “blown away” by extreme heat seen in Canada in recent weeks.
Staggering temperatures of 49.6C seen on the west coast of Canada.
He added: “An event like that would basically be pretty much impossible without the influence of manmade warming, that’s obviously a very severe impact.”