UK summers are likely to regularly feature intense 40'C heatwaves

Illustration of heatwave in Europe Sasa Kadrijevic/AlamyMeteorologists warn that temperatures will rise to 40C in the UK even if global warming is controlled to 1.5C.The UK is already experiencing more extreme weather. 2020 will be the fifth warmest, wettest, and eighth sunniest year ever recorded. It will also be the first year to reach the top 10 in all three variables. The State Of The UK Climate 2020 report published today showed that the average winter temperature was 5.3C last year, which is 1.6C more than the 1981-2010 average.This makes December 2019-February 2020 the fifth-warmest winter ever recorded. Meanwhile, the average summer temperature was 14.8C, which is 0.4C higher than the 1981-2010 average.AdvertisementThe maximum temperatures in early August 2020 were 34C for six consecutive days. Five tropical nights reached 20C. This made it one of the most severe heatwaves that have affected southern England in 60 years.The research compared data from the Central England Temperature Series, which dates back to 1772. It found that the region's early 21st century was 0.5C to 1.C warmer than 1901-2000 and 0.5C to 1.5C warmer over 1801-1900.Liz Bentley, chief executive officer of the Royal Meteorological Society that publishes this report, stated that the world is already experiencing extreme heat due to warming of 1.1C-1.2C above preindustrial levels.She said that if you increase the temperature by another 0.3C, these heatwaves will become even more intense. We could see 40C in the UK, although we've never experienced such high temperatures before.As 1.5C of global warming is reached, this will not be something we only see once in a while, but it will become something we see more often.Mike Kendon (climate scientist at Met Office, and the lead author of this report), said that the figures indicate a new norm for the UK.He said that temperatures in the UK have reached 34C in seven of the past 10 years, compared to the previous seven years. This is a sign that the baseline of our climate is changing, and what we consider normal is changing.Journal reference: International Journal of Climatology DOI: 10.1002/joc.7285Register for the Countdown to CO26 newsletter, which covers this important year in climate policy