Extreme weather: Forecasters warn of more to come
Britain's storms and Europe's heat are two sides of the same climatic coin
Sunday 01 July 2007
It was the week the weather went crazy - not just here, but in continental Europe as well. And, inevitably, it caused fresh concern about what global warming might be doing to our climate.
While record rains buffeted Britain - leading to widespread flooding and its greatest ever peacetime rescue operation - southern Europe was fighting massive fires sparked by unprecedented heat.
Monday was Britain's wettest ever summer day - two months'-worth of rain pelted down in 12 hours, ensuring the most sodden June on record. As the Environment Agency put it, flooding went "off the scale". At least seven people died and 3,500 were rescued from swamped homes, mainly in Yorkshire and the Midlands.
Greece, by contrast, baked in its greatest heatwave, with temperatures topping 46C in Athens, and more than 120 wildfires broke out across the country. The heat was similar in mainland Italy, Sicily, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania, while even Paris and Berlin touched 39C. At least 49 people died.
After a brief respite at the end of the week, both crises are set to resume - with fresh downpours in Britain and more sweltering sun to the south. They are two sides of the same climatic coin. The immediate cause is a southwards shift of the jet stream - the giant, undulating current of air that flows west to east some five miles up across the northern hemisphere. This causes the high pressure that usually parks over the Azores at this time of year and brings us flaming June but is now giving the continent a blazing one.
At the same time, storms that would normally pass to the north of us have volleyed into Britain instead.
Climatologists suspect that global warming has something to do with this, but no one can be sure. What they do say is that there will be more extremes - more heatwaves and more frequent, more intense rainfall - as the world warms up. Greater heat will inject more energy into the climate system, causing storms as well as droughts.
We have made ourselves very vulnerable to such a future. We have sited half of our post-war new housing on floodplains, often in breach of official planning advice.
Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins by carefully chewing and passing them around
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
At long last, Australia is able to halt the relentless advance of the cane toad
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Fearne Cotton quits Radio 1 after ten years for 'family and new adventures'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...