From rationed lettuces to devastated cricket grounds, the impacts of extreme weather linked to climate change are becoming ever more apparent in the UK, as illustrated by the Climate Coalition’s recently published Weather Warning report – and the shortage of Spanish courgettes in British supermarkets this week.
The Priestley International Centre for Climate provided the science on event-attribution for the case studies in the report, which highlighted the economic, environmental and social costs of the damage to much loved features of UK life. One such was Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club in West Yorkshire, which had its pitch and clubhouse ruined in the Boxing Day floods of 2015, despite being built ten feet above ground level to avoid this.
Andy Challinor, Professor of Climate Impacts at the School of Earth and Environment, was interviewed on Paul Hudson’s Weather Show on BBC Radio Leeds on the subject. Talking about weather event attribution, he compared the weather to shuffling a pack of playing cards, saying , “Climate change adds more aces – and some even higher cards” .
Weather attribution science uses models to show trends projecting the likelihood of extreme weather events, which helps prepare for future challenges. In the UK, this means drought and flooding – advice based on the science means the new Sowerby Bridge clubhouse will now be rebuilt 16 feet higher, with a floodable ground floor – but in Africa, higher temperatures mean crop breeding is failing to keep up with climate change, Professor Challinor said.
A lead author of the government’s UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Report 2017, Professor Challinor told Paul Hudson that climate change was also affecting crop breeding trials in the UK. Combined with the UK’s reliance on imports – half our food comes from abroad – and environmentally unsustainable production and consumption patterns, there is a risk to food security. Eating seasonal vegetables would help prevent this, and be healthier too, said Professor Challinor, who addressed the issue in a recent Climate Exchange seminar for the Priestley Centre.
The programme was broadcast on 11 February and is available to listen on iPlayer here (cricket feature starts at 10.00 mins and interview with Andy Challinor at 23.30 mins).
View the slides of Professor Challinor’s Climate Exchange presentation on the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 in the resources section here.