Extreme weather events set to worsen warns Met Office

Insurers in the UK have been warned to brace themselves for record breaking weather extremes as Climate Change continues.

A new set of projections from the Met Office reveal that extremes of rainfall and high temperatures are expected to exceed the extreme conditions that have already experienced in the UK, breaking records and placing increasing challenges on health, infrastructure and services.

It comes with a warning that extreme weather events will become the new normal and that the country needs to prepare itself for floods and heatwaves to intensify.

The latest addition to the set of UK Climate Projections (known as UKCP) have been published by the Met Office today.

The Met Office said the focus for the UKCP projections is to help users – from Government, organisations, engineers, professionals and individuals – to understand more about how climate change is likely to impact the UK.

Professor Jason Lowe OBE Head of the UKCP programme for the Met Office said: “Some of the most severe consequences of climate change will come from an increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events. We know that on average the UK is projected to become hotter and drier in summer, and warmer and wetter in winter – this tells us a lot, but for those assessing climate change risk it’s important to better understand how extreme weather events are likely to change too”.

The updated projections – which are available free to all UKCP users – look at extreme weather events for maximum temperature in summer; and maximum total rainfall over one-day and five-day periods. Users can examine local areas – down to 25km resolution – and look at the model simulated rise for rare high temperature and high rainfall events which may happen on average only one-in-twenty, fifty or even one hundred years.

Dr Simon Brown was one of the key scientists working on the project. He added: “If you’re designing a flood-relief scheme or building a railway, for example, you can’t assume that the climate will remain the same because we know that it is already changing. The things you want to know will be how much heat or rainfall will my project have to cope with and that is what our projections will do.”

To help users see the scale of change across the UK, the Met Office has published data on how maximum temperatures and one and five-day rainfall totals may rise in future. The new results were calculated by adjusting present day extremes in line with modelled future changes in extremes out to the end of the century.

In conclusion, Dr Lizzie Kendon said: “Future work will be to understand these changes in terms of the weather types or storms that drive these changes, to better understand the nature of the changes and help adaptation planning. In additional new UKCP Local projections – down to 2.2km resolution – are planned to be released in Spring 2021 providing updated information on changes in hourly rainfall extremes important for understanding future risks of flash flooding.”