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How is Climate Change Impacting the UK Summer 2022

Published on May 10, 2022

These days a lot of questions are being raised about how the planet is coping with regards to the  climate change crisis that we are living through currently. People are starting to feel concerned about the impact their lifestyle is having on the planet and there is a collective consciousness growing to help improve the state of the world. 

Climate change is now a primary concern for people, governments and enterprises around the world. The global crisis has reached staggering levels as the summers become hotter, the monsoons never seem to end, and the winters become harsher around the world. Recently the heat wave towards the beginning of the UK summers in 2022 made the meteorological department of the country take a step back and reevaluate what their old standards were for measuring heat waves. They decided to increase the threshold in order to accommodate the total shift in temperatures in the region and reinstate a new temperature limit for the heat wave. 

What is a heat wave? 

UK summers weren’t always this hot. There would be heat waves, sure, but that did not mean that the country was living in a perpetual one. Well, thanks to the UK climate change impact, that has become the case. The country was living in a heat wave instead of a summer, which by definition did not make sense.  

climate change

A heat wave is a pre-decided period of time in which the temperatures exceed the average recorded temperature in that duration. According to the World Meteorological Organisation, a heat wave is a period of at least five days or more where the temperature exceeds more than five degrees of the average temperature recorded during that time. If the average temperature in the first week of April was recorded as 25 degrees Celsius and it crosses 30 degrees during the first week of April, then that period is considered to be a heat wave.  

So, clearly because of the rising temperatures around the world caused by the climate change crisis, the UK summers have gotten significantly hotter than they were, say ten years ago. So this summer to accept the UK climate change because of the change in temperatures, the UK Met Office decided to raise the heat wave threshold by 1 degree Celsius (The Guardian) in eight different counties around the country.  

Read more: The Next Solar ‘Superstorm’ Could Shut U.S. Internet for Several Months, Research Says

What is a heat wave threshold? 

A heat wave threshold is the temperature rise limit that helps define the existence or presence of a heat wave in the area. For example, Sussex county could have a heat wave threshold of 35 to 40 degrees Celsius in April, and if it crosses to 35 degrees, then it is considered to be a heat wave.  

heat wave in UK

The Met Office in the UK has decided to increase the threshold for eight counties this year. The heat wave threshold used to be 26C in Lincolnshire but now it has been increased to 27C. East Riding county in Yorkshire had their heat wave threshold increase from 25C to 26C. Other counties like Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Surrey had their heat wave threshold increase from 27C to 28C this year.  

The UK summers are at no point going to go back to what they used to be even two decades ago, and the temperature rise is more than a cause of concern for the world. The fact that the Met had to acknowledge this steady increase in global temperatures is even more cause for worry. 

Why is that?  

What the Met increasing the heat wave threshold for UK summers means for the country environmentally 

What is the impact on the health of the people? 

Over the last few years there have been a lot more natural disasters and calamities in the UK that can be attributed to rising global temperatures and the increase in the number of heat waves. There has also been a rise in the number of deaths observed in the time period of heat waves in the UK summers. 

Those who have preexisting health conditions are less tolerant to the heat as compared to healthy individuals. Their chances of reacting badly to the heat wave increase and it can even lead to an increase in the number of deaths. The average number of deaths in 2003 during a heat wave went up from 1,100 to nearly 1,500 (BBC) on July 25. Heat waves can also lead to a sunstroke or a heat stroke, which can cause extreme dehydration, fever, and lead to additional health conditions.  

This is because rising and unprecedented levels of heat can cause your body to heat up and result in heat stress. This is when one’s body cannot manage to effectively cool itself down especially in cases of severe humidity. Normally, a human body sweats in order to expel heat from its system but when there is excessive humidity, the sweat released from the glands cannot evaporate fast enough and the glands are blocked. 

According to some studies, increased heat and humidity are also linked to various respiratory issues and can cause cardiovascular problems as well. So it is not just the environment that is impacted with the rising global temperatures, us as a species gets affected too. Another issue that takes place with excessive heating is the heating of the ground level surfaces. The ground ends up releasing more ozone into the environment, which can lead to production in excessive levels of smog at sea level regions. These can cause other respiratory problems in humans, and can have a terrible and severe impact on people with asthma. People with health problems, especially respiratory ones, already have to be extra careful in the last couple of years because of the Coronavirus outbreak, because it makes them more prone to lasting effects of the virus and increases the severity of the same. If we add these climate-related health issues to their lives as well, they are bound to suffer and be sicker than they have ever been before.  

Read Also: Zero Carbon and Completely Green Electricity by 2035: UK's Plan to Fight Climate Change 

climage change impact on UK summers


What does it mean for the world at large? 

The climate change crisis has crossed its own threshold and graduated from being a cause for concern to one of the most important crises the world has ever faced. The fact that the Met had to acknowledge this means that the frequency of heat waves is only going to increase in the next coming years, and the average temperatures around the world will continue to rise.  

UK summers in 2022 are a forecast of what the UK climate change conditions will be like in the near future. It is a clear indication of the country and its government having to step up its game in terms of the measures it is taking to become a cleaner country. The entire situation is only going to worsen with time. 

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According to research results observed in the National Climate Assessment of USA, heat waves caused due to climate change and increased carbon emissions will result in a temperature increase of 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050 and the repercussions of the same will be irreversible, unless clear and extreme measures are put in place to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. 

Final Thoughts

UK summers are upon us and the climate change crisis is making the heat unbearable. The rising frequency of heat waves is increasing the chances of health issues for the citizens of the country and harsh steps need to be taken to combat this problem. If the right steps aren’t taken on time then there are chances of the temperatures increasing by 4.9 degrees Celsius (Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs) in the next 50 years, which can cause flooding, even more health problems, and even lead to loss in flora and fauna. Governments and corporations need to amp up their ESG focus practices and need to work together to tackle this problem before it escalates even further. 

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