British authorities issued their first ever “red” warning for extreme heat early next week, declaring a national emergency as forecasters predict record temperatures that will put even healthy people at risk of serious illness and death.
According to the U.K Met Office, Monday and Tuesday are the most dangerous days for temperatures in England at 40 C (104 F). British records are 38.7C (101 F), which was set in 2019.
According to scientists, climate change has increased the probability of heat waves exceedingly severe in Britain. The country is better known for grey skies and rain. Nikos Christidis, Met Office climate scientist, stated that temperatures such as those predicted for next week will be 10 times more likely than without human intervention.
“We hoped we wouldn’t get to this situation, but for the first time ever we are forecasting greater than 40°C in the U.K.,” Christidis said in a prepared statement. “In a recent study we found that the likelihood of extremely hot days in the U.K. has been increasing and will continue to do so during the course of the century.”
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The U.K. Health Security Agency increased its own hot weather alert to the highest level, putting it to “national emergency.” The warning system was created in 2004, when concerns about climate change spurred authorities to develop their first plan to protect the public from severed heat.
’’At this level, illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups,” UKHSA said.
The weather alert, which covers a big chunk of England from London north to Manchester, also warns of potential disruption to air and rail travel and potential “localized loss of power and other essential services, such as water or mobile phone services.”
Two agencies had earlier issued lower-level warnings this week due to high temperatures in large parts of the U.K., despite cooler weather on Thursday and Friday. As the storm system which brought record-breaking temperatures to Europe’s parts this week passes north, temperature will likely rise over the next few days.
“Even as a climate scientist who studies this stuff, this is scary,” said Professor Hannah Cloke, a natural hazards researcher at the University of Reading. “This feels real. “At the beginning of this week, I was concerned about my goldfish becoming too hot. Now I’m worried about the survival of my family and my neighbors.”
Professor of Climate System Science at University of Reading Nigel Arnell said that Britain must be prepared for hotter weather. This can be done by retrofitting buildings and adding greenery to cities.
He said that adaptation and resilience must be a top political priority.
“We can’t keep on dealing with extremes in crisis mode,” Arnell said.
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