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Floods, storms and heat: Is this the start of tropical autumns in Britain?

The Met Office confirms temperatures are expected to reach 26C in parts of the UK this weekend

Maira Butt
Monday 02 October 2023 16:22 BST
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Flash flooding causes chaos in New York City

Temperatures are set to reach 26C in parts of the UK this weekend as experts warn weather changes will only get worse if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t reduced urgently.

After a wet start to the week, heat of up to 24C will be “notably widespread” across the UK on Saturday while some regions in the south and south east of England will experience heat of up to 26C on Sunday.

A Met Office spokesperson said: “In a changing climate, we’re likely to see more heat extremes due to our changing climate and the underlying influence of human-induced climate change.”

They report that increased temperatures and weather changes will become “more frequent and more severe” in the years to come with the three month period covering autumn and winter, between October and December, set to be warmer than average.

Although warmer October months and natural variability in the change of weather is not unusual, the Met said they could not predict whether temperatures would be as hot every autumn but there was an increased likelihood for them to be warmer than average. The highest recorded temperature for this month in the last thirty years was in 2011 where conditions soared to 29.9C.

The news comes at the same time as a yellow weather warning was issued for parts of Scotland where persistent rainfall is expected throughout the week, with 100mm of rain expected to accumulate over a three day period.

Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at Imperial College, Dr Paulo Ceppi, said that the evidence that things would continue to get worse in the coming decade was “overwhelming.”

Parts of Scotland have been issued with a yellow weather warning as persistent rain is expected this week (PA)

Dr Ceppi said: “For the UK, this means increasing temperatures and other extreme events including the increased severity and frequency of heatwaves.

“Last year it broke 40C. We can’t expect that to happen every year but it is getting increasingly likely year after year as the world continues warming.”

And heatwaves aren’t the only concern, he says if sea levels continue to rise, we can also expect extreme rainfall leading to other effects which would include “coastal changes, storms and coastal erosion.” This could lead to cliffs collapsing and other coastal infrastructure being put at risk, in the worst cases.

Although it is being referred to as an “autumn heatwave” the Met Office said this was not technically true as high temperatures needed to last three days to be considered a heat wave. However, they did confirm that the temperatures for many regions were expected to reach “heatwave level.”

Experts say forecasts for the next decades are predicted to get increasingly worse as the effects of the climate crisis impact weather (Getty Images)

Dr Ceppi says that weather changes such as this demonstrate the need to to reduce emissions as soon as possible. “It will continue to get warmer unless we reach net zero,” he said.

“Even in the most optimistic scenario, there’s no way we could stop in the next ten years. But we have to reach net zero as soon as possible to stop warming. As long as we keep burning greenhouse gases, the planet will continue warming and we will continue to see these sorts of weather extremes.”

The UK had it’s joint-warmest September on record in a series which goes back to 1884 according to provisional Met Office statistics. Mean temperatures reached 15.2C this September putting it level with 2006 which surpassed the hottest September since records began. England’s provisional figure of 16.7C this year topped the previous record of 16.5C set in 2006.

Dr Ceppi said the scientific community “welcomed the government’s pledge to reach net zero by 2050. But the pledge needs to be backed up by policy and delays can affect our ability to reach that goal.”

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