Population World Population: CO2 ppm World Carbon: 390 ppm

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Climate Concern in the UK?

The Environment Agency have confirmed that half of all UK households face the threat of drought restrictions in the new year if rainfall does not return to normal this winter.While we have heard statements like this before how many have been made in November!. Is the UK climate changing and if it is what are the consequences for all of us, the MET Office believe they have the answer following a study commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The eternally fence sitting Met Office say there is unlikely to be significant change in the current UK weather over the next thirty days, if they are right we will have enjoyed the warmest November in 300 years. Taken in isolation there is an element of so what about it; however, when placed in context of global concerns about the increasingly apparent impact of climate change should we be concerned ?. I believe the answer to this question is a resounding YES, consider these facts and decide for yourself :

1. Following some of the driest weather on record over the last year in the highly populated regions of the UK, water suppliers have urged customers to start making savings to help cope with low levels in reservoirs, rivers and underground aquifers
2. The latest appeals by Thames Water and South East Water follow the announcement by Anglian Water this week that it has applied for a drought permit to take emergency supplies out of rivers
3. South East Water said it could not rule out a drought order, and Thames Water indicated that the company needed at least average rainfall this winter to avoid tougher restrictions such as bans on using hosepipes or car washes, and watering sports pitches.
4. Veolia Water Central was more concerned, saying: "We will need very wet weather for the rest of the winter for groundwater levels to recover by next spring.  

Together these six water companies cover much of central and south-eastern England and serve more than 11million of the country's 22million  households on the mains water supply

Met Office Facts
There has been a marked lack of rainfall across parts of the UK this year, with some areas seeing their driest January to October period on record. The Midlands and East Anglia have been particularly badly affected, but the whole of the south of the country is well down on normal rainfall levels.
Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Rutland and Shropshire have all had their driest first ten months of the year in the Met Office records, which go back to at 1910. Each of those counties has had just over 60% of the normal amount of rainfall we would expect for the period.
Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Huntingdonshire and Worcestershire are not far behind, as they have all notched up totals which are the second or third driest in the records.
District / Region
Jan – Oct total    
1971-2000 Average
% of Average
Driest since 1929, 3rd driest in series
Driest in series
Driest in series
Driest in series
Driest in series
Driest since 1959, 2nd driest in series
Driest since 1929, 3rd driest in series
Driest since 1921, 3rd driest in seri

As well as the recent dry weather, water companies and environment regulators are expecting the UK to have more frequent dry winters as a result of climate change. Combined with increasing regulation to force companies to reduce the amount of water they take from rivers to protect wildlife, and growing water use from a rising population, several water companies are planning major infrastructure projects to avoid future water shortages, including the return of major transfers between regions, and new reservoirs. Thames Water has also built a desalination plant to turn briney water from the Thames Estuary into tap water in emergency situations, a technology more commonly associated with parched Middle East countries.

The Met Office released a global climate study commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) at the COP17 Conference in Durban South Africa this week.

Headlines of the presentation in South Africa include the following :

  • 18,000,000 UK citizens will experience increased water shortage and will be increasingly affected by coastal flooding by 2100 if CO2 emissions continue to rise. 
  • The UN recently announced that emissions are rising at 2X that which is needed to see temperatures stabilise and there is broad agreement that the 2OC rise global target is no longer possible and 4OC should be considered a minimum
  • The Met Office Reports (MOR) cover 24 nations and applies consistent methodology allowing accurate comparative analysis
  • MOR comes at a time when South and East England is facing one of  its  driest years ever, we have sourced the data and are waiting until the year end to publish and analysis
  • MOR concludes as we would expect that rainfall patterns are unpredictable. However the Climate and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne concluded :

“Life for millions of people could change forever. This makes the challenge of reducing carbon emissions ever more urgent”

CarbonFix Foundation ( www.carbonfix.it ) will be issuing a Conference summary when it concludes at the end of the week.


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