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UK Climate Projections impacts

The continual improvement of UK Climate Projections including the current upgrade (UKCP18) is designed to provide the best tools and guidance to help decision-makers assess their risk exposure to climate.

We have worked with different government and business organisations to understand how UK Climate Projections (UKCP) can provide information to help them prepare and adapt for the future.

Learn more by reading the following examples.

Impacts on the rail industry
Impacts on the road industry
Impacts on the UK energy industry
Impacts on small-scale wind power generation
Impacts on the water industry
Impacts on social welfare
Impacts on defence and global security
Impacts on animal disease
Impacts on critical national infrastructure
Impacts on the Thames Barrier

Impacts on the rail industry

Climate change poses many potential issues for the rail industry, as infrastructure and services could be affected by an increase in extreme weather events. It is important to understand how the rail network could be affected by these extremes including summer heatwaves, heavy rainfall, rising sea levels, and storms. This would enable the rail industry to determine which parts of the infrastructure are most vulnerable from factors such as sea-level rise and storms which can result in bigger waves and storm surges and could affect the viability of existing and planned coastal lines.

Impacts on the road industry

The road network is susceptible to the weather and, in particular, to extreme temperatures melting roads, and heavy rainfall leading to flooding. Understanding which areas are most at risk from extreme heat and heavy rainfall facilitates planning including storm water management and mitigation dealing with possible road surface melting.

Impacts on the UK energy industry

A changing climate could affect the generation and transportation of energy and the way we use it. It is important for energy companies to understand how to prepare for the threats and opportunities ahead. UKCP can be used to assess future temperature increases and determine the likely impact on the energy industry. This includes looking at the potential effect on energy demand resulting from changes in seasons due to climate change - such as an expected shift in peak power demand as air conditioning use increases in summer; and considering the effect of heat on the efficiency of thermal power stations. The majority of the energy infrastructure is already fit to meet the challenges of a changing climate. However, there continues to be a need to adapt technology to the future climate, especially when building new power plants.

Impacts on small-scale wind power generation

Using wind power generation effectively is one way to cut carbon emissions and help limit the impact of climate change. Homes and businesses can do this by using small-scale turbines, but to be cost effective and beneficial for the environment they must be in the right place. UK Climate Projections can be used to provide detailed information on wind strength and consistency across the UK which can be added to other information such as local geography to determine the optimum height for small-scale turbines in a particular location and whether wind power generation is the right solution. 

Impacts on the water industry

Information from UKCIP02 showed there may be significant changes in rainfall patterns under climate change. This could  affect water systems, including sewerage and storm drain networks. UK Climate Projections enables analysis of best and worst case scenarios for a specific geographical location including identification of areas likely to be subject to more extreme rainfall in the future. Water companies can use this understanding to adapt sewerage networks towards new design standards, increasing the capacity for dealing with heavy rainfall.

Impacts on social welfare

Changes in temperature extremes due to climate change could impact the social assistance required by vulnerable people including increasing help with heating costs or - in future - contributions to air-conditioning costs.

Impacts on defence and global security

Climate change has the potential to affect the scale and frequency of a range of humanitarian problems, such as flooding, drought and famine and could also affect troops on the ground anywhere in the world. Our models of future climate changes can be used to assess the humanitarian risks posed all over the world, including factors such as crop growth, access to fresh water, intense heat, and extreme weather. Extreme temperatures can also impact humanitarian groups and armed forces and adapted equipment may be required to meet challenges including heat stress.

Impacts on animal disease

Many viruses affecting animals, such as bluetongue, are spread by vectors — insects whose movements are affected by wind, temperature and precipitation. The spread of other airborne diseases, such as foot-and-mouth, is also affected by weather conditions. A changing climate will affect when and where such viruses and diseases spread, potentially exposing the UK to new or increased risks of infection. We have created sophisticated dispersion models which aim to forecast the potential spread of diseases or viruses based on weather and the models are being continually refined to improve their accuracy.

Impacts on critical national infrastructure

It is important to develop an understanding of how climate change could affect the UK's network of power stations, including nuclear power stations,  and particularly those on the coasts, which may be vulnerable to sea-level rise. Our climate models can project  a range of sea-level-rise scenarios based on a number of variables and enabling understanding of the likely risk to all of the UK's power stations and development of long-term strategies for each site.

Impacts on the Thames Barrier

Sea-level rises, increased river flows and more-frequent, more-intense storm surges are all possible effects of climate change. This poses potential flooding risks to several areas of the UK, particularly along the Thames Estuary which could test the efficiency of the Thames Barrier in dealing with future extreme weather events, such as surges from the North Sea.

UK Climate Projections can enable modelling of possible sea-level changes, increases in the intensity and frequency of storm surges, and how changes in rainfall could affect river flows. This information is a crucial basis to simulations of flooding in the Thames Estuary which can analyse how defences would cope with severe weather events.

Thames Estuary 2100 project

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