University of Reading: UK Heatwave becomes Invisible Killer

Chloe Brimicombe, a PhD heatwaves researcher at the University of Reading, said:

“The UK is currently baking in its latest heatwave after the world watched the US and Canada fry.

“Record-breaking temperatures have been reached in Northern Ireland, a region with no heatwave warning system and no defence against this deadly killer. Parts of England have an amber alert in place and there was a surge of 999 calls over the weekend.

“We’re likely to see increased hospital admissions over the next few days, due to heat stress – a build up of body heat as conditions prevent people from cooling down, even at night – and other heat-related health issues. Vulnerable people do die. Outdoor workers can get long-term kidney disease. We can also see a rise in air pollution, which affects people’s lungs.

“With the Climate Change Committee calling once again on the UK Government to adapt to climate change including extreme heat, we need the kind of leadership and action that would be taken after a massive flood or we will see as many if not more lives lost to the invisible killer to heat.”

Dr Rob Thompson, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, said:

“Hot temperatures and lots of sunshine continue over most of England today as a result an area of high pressure centred to the west of the UK.

“As is often the case in hot spells in the UK, the heat leads to the danger of intense showers, which could be thundery. Forecasts currently show the sun and heat remaining for most of the week, with the ongoing risk of showers and possibly thunderstorms, particularly in the afternoons.

“Heatwaves are one of the weather extremes that are most easily linked to climate change which is already affecting us here in the UK.

“British heatwaves are already hotter and last longer, compared to just a few decades ago. The hottest day of the year in the UK is on average nearly 1°C warmer now than the average in the period of the 1960s to the 1980s, and extended spells of warm weather last more than double the length.

“We can expect that extreme summer heatwaves of the type that can kill people in the UK will become a regular occurrence, hitting us on average every other summer by the middle of the century, under current trends of increasing emissions and warming.”

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