More Hot Summers’ for Parts of UK

‘More hot summers’ for parts of UK.

By David Shukman, Science editor

6 July 2015

Scorching summers such as the one in 2003 look set to become more common in England and Wales, a study suggests.  And devastating rains such as in Britain’s worst winter in 2013-14 may be less likely in the decades ahead.

Work by the Met Office has calculated the odds of particular weather scenarios striking in future years.  The computer simulations-based study, in journal Nature Climate Change, finds that milder winters and drier summers will also become more likely.

The work draws on a major analysis, known as UKCP09, released back in 2009 which offered projections of the future British climate divided into 30-year periods.  This new research instead provides a more detailed focus by giving projections for winters and summers in each individual year from now until the end of the century.

The aim is to take more account of the fact that Britain’s weather is notoriously variable – fluctuating for natural reasons year to year regardless of human-induced climate change.

The authors of the research looked only at data from England and Wales; the analysis did not take into account Scotland or Northern Ireland.

‘Apparent contradiction.’

A parallel goal is to make clear that a trend to warmer temperatures does not mean that extremes of cold or rainfall are made impossible – instead, weather that seems to buck the prevailing remains on the cards, if less likely as the century progresses.

The 2009 study had suggested that the country faced a future of milder, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers – and the Met Office faced fierce criticism when shortly afterwards Britain was suddenly plunged into the bitterly cold winter of 2009-10.

Met Office scientists acknowledge that there was confusion in the public mind about the “apparent contradiction” of hearing a 30-year projection for milder winters only to endure the reality of ice and snow.

The authors of the new study hope that coming up with odds for different scenarios for weather in individual seasons will more useful.  The paper says that the new approach has two advantages: “First, it allows fair comparisons with recent weather events, for instance showing that recent cold winters are within projected ranges.

“Second, it allows the projections to be expressed in terms of the extreme hot, cold, wet or dry seasons that impact society, providing a better idea of adaptation needs”.

Some key conclusions from the study include:

By 2100, the chances of a summer being hotter than the one in 2003 are 89% – that’s odds of roughly 9-out-of-10.

There is still a 35-40% chance of getting a wetter-than-average summer until 2035 but that risk falls to 20% by 2100.

The chances of a winter with the same kind of rainfall as in 2013-14 fall to just under 10% by the end of the century.

And the odds of a very cold winter similar to 2009-10 fall to less than 1% over the same period.

A co-author of the report, David Sexton, said that basing the projections on 30-year averages, as in the UKCP09 study, risked giving the impression to people that those weather conditions would apply to every single year.

“When I talk to people, they remember the hot summer of 2003 or the wet winter of 2013-14 and they know they were extreme seasons – people can make tangible links to those impacts, they mean something to them personally, and the 30-year averages don’t make sense to people in the same way.”

CO2 Emissions Threaten An Ocean Crisis

CO2 emissions threaten ocean crisis.

By Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst

3 July 2015

A major report warns life in the seas will be irreversibly changed unless CO2 emissions from industrial society are drastically cut.

Writing in Science, experts say the oceans are heating, losing oxygen and becoming more acidic because of CO2.  They warn that the 2C maximum temperature rise for climate change agreed by governments will not prevent dramatic impacts on ocean systems.  And they say the range of options is dwindling as the cost of those options is skyrocketing.

Twenty-two world-leading marine scientists have collaborated in the synthesis report in a special section of Science journal. They say the oceans are at parlous risk from the combination of threats related to CO2.

They believe politicians trying to solve climate change have paid far too little attention to the impacts of climate change on the oceans.

It is clear, they say, that CO2 from burning fossil fuels is changing the chemistry of the seas faster than at any time since a cataclysmic natural event known as the Great Dying 250 million years ago. They warn that the ocean has absorbed nearly 30% of the carbon dioxide we have produced since 1750 and, as CO2 is a mildly acidic gas, it is making seawater more acidic.

It has also buffered climate change by absorbing over 90% of the additional heat created by industrial society since 1970. The extra heat makes it harder for the ocean to hold oxygen.

‘Radical Change.’

Several recent experiments suggest that many organisms can withstand the future warming that CO2 is expected to bring, or the decrease in pH, or lower oxygen… but not all at once.

Jean-Pierre Gattuso, lead author of the study, said: “The ocean has been minimally considered at previous climate negotiations. Our study provides compelling arguments for a radical change at the UN conference (in Paris) on climate change”.

They warn that the carbon we emit today may change the earth system irreversibly for many generations to come.

Carol Turley, of Plymouth Marine Laboratory, a co-author, said: “The ocean is at the frontline of climate change with its physics and chemistry being altered at an unprecedented rate so much so that ecosystems and organisms are already changing and will continue to do so as we emit more CO2.

“The ocean provides us with food, energy, minerals, drugs and half the oxygen in the atmosphere, and it regulates our climate and weather. “We are asking policy makers to recognise the potential consequences of these dramatic changes and raise the profile of the ocean in international talks where, up to now, it has barely got a mention.”

The scientists say ocean acidification is likely to impact reproduction, larval survival and feeding, and growth rates of marine organisms – especially those with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons.

Dangerous Path.

The authors say when the multiple stressors work together they occasionally cancel each other out, but more often they multiply negative effects.

The experts say coastal protection, fisheries, aquaculture and human health and tourism will all be affected by the changes.

They warn: “Immediate and substantial reduction of CO2 emissions is required in order to prevent the massive and effectively irreversible impacts on ocean ecosystems and their services”.

Professor Manuel Barange, director of science at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, said: “Climate change will continue to affect ocean ecosystems in very significant ways, and society needs to take notice and respond.   “Some ecosystems and their services will benefit from climate change, especially in the short term, but overall the impacts are predominately negative. Negative impacts are particularly expected in tropical and developing regions, thus potentially increasing existing challenges in terms of food and livelihood security. We are allowing ourselves to travel a uniquely dangerous path, and we are doing so without an appreciation for the consequences that lie ahead.”

Climate Change Plans Require Urgent Action, Government Warned

Climate change plans require urgent action, Government warned.

By Helen Briggs, BBC Environment correspondent

30 June 2015

The UK must take urgent action to prepare for the impact of climate change, the government has been warned.  Ministers should focus on the future risks of heatwaves and flooding, says the Committee on Climate Change.

Its report said more needed to be done to keep emissions on track, although the government said it was committed to meeting its climate change target.  It also warned a decision to stop onshore wind farm subsidies early could potentially add £1bn a year to bills.

The report by the Committee on Climate Change looked at progress towards meeting carbon emission targets and how the UK is preparing for climate change risks.  Chairmen Lord Deben and Lord Krebs said measures were needed to address increased flood risk to homes and to protect farmland from declines in productivity.

Lord Krebs said: “By the 2050s the sort of heatwaves we might experience in the next few days will be the norm, a typical summer.”

The committee also called for action to make homes and buildings safer during heatwaves.  “Just as we’ve been encouraging on the mitigation side retrofit of loft insulation and so on, we need to think how to develop passive cooling measures maybe tinted glass, shading, again as is common in other countries,” Lord Krebs said.

Lord Deben added that decisions on carbon-cutting policies needed to be made “urgently” to give companies time to invest.

The committee is also advising the Government to:

  • Extend funding for low-carbon electricity generation to 2025
  • Continue support for efficient, low-emission vehicles
  • Develop new infrastructure that is resilient to the impacts of climate change
  • Act to counter the decline in productive farmland.

The committee said the government has a duty to explain to the public how it intends to replace the energy from wind turbines in the countryside.

‘Coherent policies’

Onshore wind is the cheapest option but the government announced it would end subsidies from April 2016, a year early, after protests from countryside residents.  The committee’s calculation of the additional £1bn a year on bills would be the result of ministers deciding to replace the lost output from onshore wind by increasing the supply of electricity for offshore wind.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change said the government was committed to meetings its climate change target of an 80% emissions reduction by 2050.

Analysis – Roger Harrabin, Environment Analyst.

The government’s decision to stop future subsidies for onshore wind will cost the public around an extra £1bn a year if the lost energy is replaced by offshore wind, according to the committee.  The government recently responded to complaints about wind farms in the countryside by announcing an early end to the onshore wind subsidy programme.

The committee said the government now has a duty under the Climate Change Act to explain to the public how it intends to replace the energy from wind turbines on land – and to tell people how much it will cost.  The committee says onshore wind is the cheapest option for bill-payers. The government says it is still committed to its climate targets but hasn’t offered any explanation as to how it will fill the gap created by the end to new onshore wind.

“We have already made great strides to that goal, with emissions down 30% since 1990,” said a spokesperson. “There’s still much work to do and we will continue to power our move to a low-carbon economy at best value to consumers.”

Commenting on the report, former Shell chairman Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool said the government needed to bring forward decarbonisation policies quickly to retain its moral authority on climate change.

“Ministers need to come forward very soon with coherent policies on energy efficiency, low-carbon transport, renewable heat and renewable electricity, otherwise the UK will fall behind other nations and lose its moral authority on the international stage,” he said.

And Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: “The government must follow its advice and agree an action plan for energy efficiency which results in homes that are cheaper to heat and that are shielded from the worst effects of climate change.”

Poor Planning, Poor Use of Tax Payers Money

In the centre of Lewes at the moment, a machine resembling a dinosaur is tearing-down the former Magistrates Court, as it was deemed surplus to requirements within only a couple of decades of being planned and built.  It was an example of some fine design and brickwork craftsmanship.

P1020176It appears a pity that more of what are relatively new materials, can not be salvaged and reused – tiles, some of the internal wooden fixtures, instead of simply being recycled, much of it presumably into hardcore.  A more proactive approach should be taken in respect of the building and commissioning of new building that takes into account their lifespan and the carbon footprint of their construction.  A huge amount of energy was expended in the production of all those thousands of bricks, tiles and steel for such a short lifespan.