Understanding climate change

Climate change data

Significant fluctuations in natural climatic conditions occur over time as evidenced by the geological record and Antarctic ice cores which show a range of -10 C to +6 C over the last 800,000 years relative to current temperature. However, there is good scientific evidence to show climate is changing more rapidly because of recent emissions of greenhouse gases as a result of human activity. According to the UK Committee on Climate Change the last decade showed the highest global average surface temperatures since records began, about 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels. Global sea level hs risen by around 20cm with significant contributions now coming from the melting ice sheets and sea ice is also decreasing. A global reduction in CO2 emissions has been targeted to mitigate further climate change.

Impact of climate change on the UK
Interactions within the climate system between air, land, water, ice and ecosystems are complex leading to uncertainty in prediction of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that by 2100 the planet will warm by 1.8-7.1°C above pre-industrial levels, increasing stress on global water resources, food production, eco systems, coastal erosion and public health. UK predictions suggest average temperature will rise and sea levels could increase by 12-76 cm by the end of the century. Winter precipitation increases in western regions while summer precipitation decreases in many. Significant wave heights increase and sea surface temperatures rise. Extreme weather events resulting in floods and droughts are likely to become more frequent and severe as the climate changes.

Climate change adaptation
Preparation for climate change in the public and private sector, will reduce the impact of future costs and damages, and enable organisations to take advantage of potential opportunities. Buildings and local infrastructure should be resilient to increased risk of flooding, water stress and overheating. Green spaces should be provided for keeping cities cool and absorbing heavy rain. Effective emergency responses need to be in place for an extreme weather event. Businesses must increase resilience to climate change when locating facilities and assessing the effect on supply chains or services. Important infrastructure services, such as power, water and roads, should ensure that current and planned investments are resilient to climate change.

Contact us for more information on assessing climate change impacts and mitigation measures.

For more information on the UK’s response to climate change visit: www.theccc.org.uk/

For maps of UK climate change predictions please visit: ukclimateprojections.metoffice.gov.uk/21708