Will the UK see another 40C heatwave this summer?

As temperatures continue to soar globally, many are wondering if the UK will experience a scorching 40C heatwave this summer, similar to the previous year.

Speculation is rife that the country will experience a scorching heatwave this month as weather maps show conditions could get hotter in the coming days.

Summer in England has started with hotter temperatures, with June temperatures breaking all-time records. According to the Met Office, last month had the hottest June temperatures since records began.

The first few weeks of official summer saw temperatures climb over 30C, causing health warnings of unprecedented heat, water shortages and even fish deaths in the river.

The Met Office said the unusually high heat was caused by “background warming of the Earth’s atmosphere due to the human-caused climate crisis”.

“What’s striking is the continued heat for most of the month, with temperatures broadly reaching the mid-20s for many people and even into the 30s sometimes,” said Dr Mark McCarthy, science manager of the National Climatic Information Center. .

He explained how last month “started with a lot of high pressure and temperatures were initially around average for many people, but after that died down, warm and humid air started to take its toll on temperatures, with highs reaching 32.2C”.

June sees an average temperature of 15.8C – surpassing the previous record of 0.9C, while the previous top three June were only separated by 0.1C.

Forecasters did a quick study which found that the odds of June beating the previous record of 14.9C were at least double since the period around 1940.

Fellow Met Office chief and extreme climate meteorologist Paul Davies explained that the increase in the average global temperature, which is now 1.2C, has “increased the likelihood of reaching a record high” in the UK.

The Met Office defines a heat wave as three consecutive days where the daily maximum temperature meets or exceeds the heatwave temperature threshold.

This threshold, however, varies across the country, from 25C in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern and South West England, to 28C in parts of South East England.

Britain has so far not experienced the same scorching temperatures from last year, when large parts of the country baked in frigid temperatures that topped the 40C mark for the first time, sparking wildfires, disrupting transport and causing thousands of premature deaths.

Last year’s extreme heat arrived amid high global temperatures, with several countries in Asia, Africa and Europe breaking records. The World Weather Attribution (WWA) said a heatwave would be “highly unlikely” if there were no climate crisis.

This year, the signs look set to align once again for a hotter summer. The start of the El Nino weather phenomenon in the Pacific is expected to push temperatures higher, with dozens of countries in Asia and Europe already reeling under the heat earlier than usual.

The searing heat continued to envelop much of the Southern US and parts of Mexico for the third week. Relentless triple-digit heatwaves – exacerbated by climate change – have been blamed for more than a dozen deaths in Texas and Louisiana and a spike in emergency room visits.

Met Office figures show June is on track to become the hottest on record

(Office Meet)

Seeing these signs, many meteorologists are predicting worsening heat in the coming days to hit England.

Met Office forecasts so far suggest that the likelihood of “above average temperatures” is higher in the second half of the week, increasing the likelihood of a heat wave.

Forecasters also clarified last week that there are currently no indications of unusually hot heat in the next few days, contrary to media reports of several heatwaves hitting the UK.

With changing weather patterns, remote forecasts are often not completely reliable, but experts say a return of extreme 40C temperatures cannot be ruled out completely.

In 2022, the UK experienced three heat waves

(Getty Images)

Even if temperatures don’t reach 40C, above average heat during the summer can also pose health-related risks to vulnerable populations. According to England’s Health Safety Agency, last year’s heatwave caused 3,000 deaths in England and Wales.

Various scientific studies state that the frequency and intensity of heat waves is increasing due to the climate crisis.

“While the UK always experiences periods of warm weather, what climate change is doing is increasing the frequency and intensity of these warm weather events, increasing the likelihood of record high temperatures being broken, as we will see for the 2022 annual temperatures in the UK,” Mr Kendon said.

The world has warmed by about 1.2C since the industrial era began and the next few years are expected to be the hottest on record, with climate conditions influenced by El Niño, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

NOAA global sea temperature map showing the water around the UK affected by a category 5 marine heat wave

(NOAA)

With continued warming, the world will soon break the crucial 1.5C mark of average global warming. This year, the world has temporarily breached this limit, which was set by the Paris Agreement as a target.

Not only did the heatwave wreak havoc on land, but global sea surface temperatures broke records in June, with coastal waters across the UK experiencing an “unheard of” marine heatwave.

Meanwhile, the British government was criticized by its own climate adviser last Wednesday for its slowness in meeting its “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions target and backtracking on fossil fuel commitments.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said the UK had “lost its clear position of global leadership on climate action”.

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