Are UK Heatwaves Getting Worse?
A new factsheet published by The Global Warming Policy Forum reviews the current state of research on heatwaves in the UK and finds inconsistent trends.
There is significant regional variation in heatwave trends, with the South East of England experiencing fewer long heatwaves, but slightly more short heatwaves. In some parts of the country, but not everywhere, there are increasing trends in the frequency and duration of heatwaves.
UK heatwave trends appear to be strongly associated with changes in natural oceanic cycles, in particular the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).
These impacts could overshadow any effect a warming climate might have in the near future, but in the long term it is expected that global warming will eventually lead to more frequent and more intense heatwaves.
Empirical data show that people around the world are adapting to higher temperatures. For most countries that statistics are available for, heat-related deaths are falling even as average temperatures rise.
However, for the UK, there does not seem to be much in the way of any increase or decrease in heat-related mortality.