The UK is experiencing its longest heatwave for seven years, with temperatures in the capital rising to an astonishing 31.5 degrees Celsius on Wednesday and a whooping 32 C in Suffolk. The heatwave has prompted health officials to issue warnings and advice on how to stay safe while the weather remains hot and dry.
But what exactly is causing this weather? And what are the effects of prolonged hot weather? Let’s dig in.
Several parts of the United Kingdom expect the hottest day yet, after experiencing a series of warm weather. The hot air spreading from North Africa, Portugal, and Spain is expected to raise the temperature of southeast England to 34C on Friday. Experts have confirmed that it is unusual for the temperature to reach this level considering we are in June.
Is The UK Getting Warmer?
The United Kingdom has been getting hotter since the 19th century. In the past ten years, the temperature in the UK has risen by about 0.9C. It is important to remember that since 1884, all the hottest ten years in the UK have occurred since 2002. Even more, there has been no record of the coldest year in the past ten years.
Cambridge experienced the highest ever temperature of 38.7C recorded in the UK in 2019. The second-warmest summer in the UK occurred in 2019 which shared the same parameters as the summer of 1995. Note that the hottest summer in the UK happened in 1976.
A heatwave is a period of hot weather where the temperature readings surpass the expected parameters for the time of the year. The Met Office in the United Kingdom usually declares a heatwave after recording maximum temperatures that exceed the set temperatures for three days simultaneously. The set temperature varies typically from country to country.
Usually, heatwaves occur when high pressure accumulates over a particular zone. Heatwaves are also capable of causing tropical nights. Tropical nights are nights where the night-time temperature remains above 20C. Tropical nights are famous for causing sleepless nights as the body fails to cool down for sleep adequately.
The Met Office said that it is still uncertain if the frequent occurrence of heatwaves can be attributed to their erratic nature.
Reasons Behind These Changes
The gradual increase of global temperature is being caused by climate change. The sun’s heat is trapped by the planet’s atmosphere due to greenhouse gasses such as carbon (iv) oxide. The trapped heat is what causes an increment in the global temperature.
The resultant effect of global warming is extreme weather conditions, which include record-breaking temperatures being recorded across the globe. It is usual for intense heat to occur in natural weather patterns; however, scientists are worried that it will become more frequent. In addition, scientists have noticed that the time frame and intensity of heat waves are rising. According to scientists, global warming is responsible for these more “ruthless” heatwaves.
The Met Office said that summers similar to the one in 2018 are 30 times more likely today than before the Industrial Revolution. Remember that it was during the Industrial Revolution that we began producing emissions responsible for today’s climate change.
A UK-based report revealed that over the past recent years, the region had experienced both extreme high temperatures and long warm periods. Statistics have shown that these spells are experiencing an upward trend. Furthermore, predictions have indicated that by 2100, it will be common for the UK to experience days with 40C every three or four years.
Is Hot Weather Harmful?
Hot weather particularly poses more danger to vulnerable individuals in society. These individuals include people with special health conditions, the elderly, and children. Health problems like cardiovascular failure and heat stroke can be caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures.
Other indirect effects include;
- Poor mental health
- Spike in the number of accidents, e.g., car accidents or drownings.
According to the Met Office, around 20,000 people died from the ten-day heat wave that hit Europe in August 2002. Temperatures exceeding 25C-26C initiate a spike in the rates of deaths.
How To Keep Cool During Heatwaves
If possible, it is advisable to learn to adapt to the heat by modifying your daily routine. This means avoiding travelling during the day when temperatures are extreme. Instead, consider making trips either early in the morning or in the evenings. Another way to keep cool is carrying along with a hat and applying a high-factor screen if you are going to be exposed to sunlight for an extended period.
Additional tips include;
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat food with high water content
- Consider wearing lighter clothes and also carry a hat
- Try to limit daytime travels and work-out sessions
- Avoid prolonged exposure to sun rays
- Install fans and ACs inside your house to help regulate your body temperature.
David, an all-around business consultant and entrepreneur, told EatNews that in history, you get hotter periods than others and that global warming is also happening. He said: “Some people believe that the climate can change on its own without human interference.” But he said this is not true as it happened in history, but it is happening now because of human activities.”
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