Extreme droughts to be 'more common'
Britain is heading for water shortages and crop failures as extreme droughts like that of 1976 become more frequent, experts have warned.
A Met Office study on how climate change could affect the frequency of extreme droughts in the UK has found they will become more common by 2100, and to put the droughts in context, conditions seen in 1976 were used as a benchmark – one of the worst droughts on record.
The Met Office climate model was used to run a number of simulations and in the worst case scenarios, extreme droughts could happen once every decade – making them about 10 times more frequent than today.
Eleanor Burke, climate extremes scientist with the Met Office, said understanding how droughts will affect the UK in the future is vital for plans to adapt to climate change.
She said: "Severe droughts such as the one seen in 1976 have a big impact – causing water shortages, health risks, fire hazards, crop failure and subsidence. Understanding how the frequency of these events will change is therefore very important to planning for the future."
Further research will be aimed at assessing how likely each of the climate model's results is, to give better guidance for people to plan for the consequences of climate change.
While it culminated in the summer of 1976, the drought was actually an 18-month period of below average rainfall starting in May 1975. Only half the normal rainfall fell between June and August in 1976.
Temperatures were 4C above average between June and August across much of southern England, and the bone dry conditions proved a major hazard, with fires breaking out daily. In Surrey, the fire service answered 11,000 calls in five months.
An estimated £500m was lost through crop failure. Dry ground resulted in a surge in subsidence claims on property, with costs amounting to around £60m. A Drought Act was passed and there was widespread water rationing – some rivers, such as the Don and Sheaf in Sheffield, almost dried up.
Drug-resistant bacteria: Sewage-treatment plants described as giant 'mixing vessels' after scientists discover mutated microbes in British river
Big Butterfly Count: Members of British public turn scientists as survey gets under way
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
Wisborough Green becomes the first village in Britain to fight off fracking
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 2 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
- 4 Amy Winehouse unpublished 2004 interview: ‘Ten years from now I’ll be 30, so I’ll maybe have one baby’
- 5 Dutch paedophile club to fight their ban at the European Court of Human Rights
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...
£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...