Impacts of Climate Change in the UK

Localised flooding  Heavier rainfall can cause rivers to burst their banks and soil to become oversaturated. Greatest increases are expected in Scotland, western Wales and the north-west of England, and the lowest increases in the Anglian and Thames river basin regions1. Localised flooding is particularly bad in heavily concreted urban areas where the water cannot sink directly into the soil. Learn about Met Office contributions to modelling rainfall for water industries, and modelling sea level rise around the Thames Barrier

Flooding of coastal regions  Research suggests that the UK is one of the most vulnerable countries in Europe to coastal flooding, and low lying and coastal cities are at particular risk from flooding as sea level continues to rise.1 Adaptation will be needed, as even with rapid cuts to emissions, sea levels are projected to continue rising beyond 2100.

Increased energy demand  Hotter summers in the UK will drive up the energy demand in summer, as air conditioning and fans are used more frequently. The same will be true of central heating in winter, as more extreme, cold winters occur. Learn more about Met Office contributions to the energy industry

Changes in seasonality  In response to warmer spring temperatures, many flowers bloom earlier, birds have been found to migrate earlier, and hibernating mammals exit hibernation earlier. This has a huge range of consequences for other species, and can change entire ecosystems.

Heat stress  High night-time temperatures and increased humidity can cause heat-related illness, as the body is unable to cool itself. As temperatures increase, severe heatwaves such as that in the summer of 2018 become more common, and expected deaths due to heat exposure are expected to rise. Learn about Met Office contributions to the Department of Work and Pensions for improving social welfare, including the provision of air conditioning to combat heat stress

Increased forest mortality risk of fires  A combination of drier land and warmer temperatures means that wildfires are both more common, and spread more easily. Rising temperatures could also increase the severity of insect outbreaks, and the abundance of invasive plant species.

Damage to infrastructure  Extreme weather events such as floods can cause damage to infrastructure. Learn more about Met Office contributions to the rail and road industries in mitigating aginst the impacts of climate change

Conflict and climate migrants  Climate change is a stress multiplier, contributing to a scarcity of resources and decrease in standard of living that can drive people to migration or conflict. Displaced climate migrants from developing countries may turn to developed nations, such as the UK.

References

  1. https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/binaries/content/assets/mohippo/pdf/s/l/cop18_factsheet_-_uk_2.pdf