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‘We are not cut out for extreme heat’: infrastructure will not survive climate change

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‘We are not cut out for extreme heat’: infrastructure will not survive climate change

A new report from the Met Office and climate experts confirmed that we are already experiencing the effects of climate change in the UK.

Scientists have warned that infrastructure in the UK will not withstand the effects of climate change, as flash floods hit parts of London this week.

Thunderstorms and heavy downpours caused damage and disruptions, and videos shared on social media showed roads knee-deep in water, as well as flooding at shopping malls and stations.

But homes, transportation systems, and flood defenses throughout the county are not built to handle extreme weather conditions.

Professor Richard Allan from the University of Reading said: “In terms of extreme rainfall, you can see what that does in terms of damage to infrastructure.

“It can affect coastal regions. Rising sea levels due to climate change can combine with heavy rains and the high seas to produce major flooding in coastal regions, which can cause flooding in homes and endanger life. “

In addition to the danger of rain, he warned of disruptions due to hot weather.

Professor Allan said: “In the UK we have a fairly old housing infrastructure and we are not made to experience extreme heat. That will cause health problems if it is fragile or vulnerable to heat. “

Rising temperatures and floods pose a risk to transport, water, energy and telecommunications systems.

Infrastructure systems are often highly dependent on each other, which means that if one system goes down, it will affect other systems.

This comes as a report from the Met Office and climate experts confirmed that we are already experiencing the effects of climate change here in the UK.

The State of the UK Climate 2020 report found that last year was the third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest year on record for the UK.

No other year has fallen in the top ten for all three variables for the UK.

The report also highlighted the severe and widespread flooding in February due to storms Ciara and Dennis and the third hottest day on record in the UK, where a temperature of 37.8 degrees was recorded on July 31 in Greater London.

Dr Ella Gilbert from the University of Reading said: “This latest report is a reminder that climate change is happening here, it is happening now and it is happening to all of us.

“We are already seeing the effects of climate change on our climate and these will become increasingly extreme as the climate warms even more.

“The longer we postpone decisive action on climate change, the more damaging these impacts will be, with tangible impacts for all of us.”

Professor Ilan Kelman, professor of disasters and health at University College London, called for action to prevent damage to infrastructure.

He said: “The report is very much a call to ensure that we act now to prevent people from dying and infrastructure from being damaged by the weather, which we can do by implementing long-standing successful techniques.

“Homes in today’s floodplains can be built or retrofitted to withstand flood water, while using more green space in our cities can prevent floodplains from expanding even when rainfall increases. Water storage for droughts needs to be planned now to avoid future shortages.

“A devastating difficulty is the heat and humidity. We are on the way to highly lethal heat waves where the main option for survival is indoor cooling, which is energy intensive and which much of the UK lacks anyway. “

Greenhouse gas emissions over the past hundred years have caused global temperatures to rise, leading to extreme heat and precipitation.

Professor Allan said: “Because the atmosphere is warmer, it contains more moisture and this is what fuels the intensity of these storms. Moisture enters storms and then rains, so the intensity of rain in these storms is even greater, leading to more severe associated flooding.

“In addition to the heavier rains and associated flooding, temperatures are increasing, and therefore when there are heat waves, they are even hotter than they would be otherwise.”

Alexandra Warren is a freelance journalist.

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