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Environment

The Heatwave Has Made Britain Literally Change Colour in Astonishing Satellite Images


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Rising temperatures can be potentially devastating both for human health and for our ecosystems — as these satellite images show. The UN’s Global Goals call for action to combat climate change and its impacts, describing it as a “real and undeniable threat to our entire civilisation.” You can join us by taking action here

You might have noticed that it’s a bit warm in the UK at the moment. 

It’s prompted safety warnings to stay indoors; it’s making us sweat buckets on the Underground; and it’s providing us with an endless source of conversation about our favourite topic. 

And now satellite imagery has shown that the heatwave has actually made Britain change colour, from luscious green in May to brown in a recent image. 

Take action: Ensure All Communities Can Withstand Climate Disaster

In fact, the UK is experiencing its longest heatwave since 1976. And, having recorded just 47 millimetres of rainfall between June 1 and July 16, it’s also the driest start to a summer since modern records began in 1961. 

The national weather service, the Met Office, has said that if average temperatures continue at the same level, Britain will see its hottest summer on record.

Even if temperatures drop, it will “certainly rank in the top 10 warmest summers on record.” 

“It’s important to remember we are only half way through the season, and a lot can change,” said a spokesperson for the Met Office, according to the Independent

Related Stories July 6, 2018 All-Time Heat Records Set Across the World This Week

But it’s not just Britain that’s seeing significantly higher-than-average temperatures. The heatwave has been felt across the world, from Canada to the Middle East. 

At the end of June, the city of Quriyat in Oman recorded the highest “low” temperature in known history — of 42.6 degrees Celsius (108.7 degrees Fahrenheit). In Algeria, Ouargla recorded Africa’s highest ever (reliable) temperature earlier this month, of 51C (124F), and even northern Siberia has recorded temperatures of 32C (90F).

And when temperatures get this high, it’s of serious concern — both for the health of people and for the health of our ecosystems. 

“Extreme weather events have severe impacts on society and ecosystems in our current climate, and pose an increasing threat as climate changes,” according to a report from the Met Office. 

“Building future resilience to extremes requires continued development in attribution science and forecasting skill,” it added. 

Met Office research shows that extreme summer temperature events in Europe are now 10 times more likely than they were in the early 2000s. And in determining how much of a role human influence has played in this rising temperatures, the Met Office is clear.

“Global records reveal large increases in warm extremes and decreases in cold extremes worldwide since 1950, which can be confidently attributed to human influences on climate as global mean surface temperature has risen unequivocally,” it said in a report.

“The likelihood of the European heatwave of 2003 was at least doubled by human influence,” it said.

Even more concerning, it warned that as global average surface temperature rises, it is “virtually certain hot temperature extremes over most land areas will be more frequent on daily and seasonal timescales.”