UK temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time on Tuesday, making it the hottest day in the country on record.
Prior to 2019, the UK had only seen a city exceed 37.8°C (100°F) once in August 2003.
since then, It happened four times in four years. So what was once thought to be impossible, or perhaps one hot event in 100 years, is now happening roughly annually.
There are three things that make these conditions possible, said Stephen Belcher, chief scientist at the UK Met Office, and Professor Paul Davies, chief meteorologist at the Met Office.
The first is the so-called “wavenumber 5 pattern,” Belcher, Davies and the Met Office said at Tuesday’s blog post. Wave 5 pattern describes “the difference in surface temperature from their average values.” There is a wave-like pattern around the northern hemisphere with five areas of high pressure, they explained, adding that these are the places most likely to experience heat waves. The Met Office scientists said the 5-wave pattern also explains why synchronized heat waves can occur around the world.
The Met Office says climate change, the second factor, also plays a role. In a blog post, Belcher and Davies wrote that UK temperatures are “unprecedented in recorded history”.
“In a climate unaffected by human influence, climate modeling shows that it is virtually impossible for UK temperatures to reach 40°C,” the Met Office said in the blog.
Climate change is mostly driven by the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, Belcher and Davies said. Hotter conditions are caused by these gases combining with atmospheric circulation patterns — like that of wave number 5, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
The third factor that contributes to warming is environmental conditions and soil, Belcher and Davies said.
“It’s been a dry year in many parts of England. When the sun shines on the earth, dry soil cannot release energy through moisture evaporation, which means more of the sun’s energy goes to heating the air, which leads to higher temperatures in the UK,” said the British blog. ‘, adding that climate scientists call this the soil moisture feedback.
The Met Office added: “These three have come together in the UK: a global 5 wave pattern that leads to warming, in an already warm climate due to climate change, also reinforced by soil moisture feedback.”
Results: The UK is totally unprepared for the effects of the climate crisis. It struggles to manage floods when they occur. In the heat, the nation shrinks.
There were so many fires in London on Tuesday that even the city’s firefighters declared a “major accident” stretched beyond its capacity. At least four people drowned as people flocked to beaches, rivers and lakes just to try to recover. Even the runway at an airport on the outskirts of London had to be closed as it was melting in the heat.
CNN’s Brandon Miller contributed reporting for this post.
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