Climate change: UK sea level rise is accelerating

Climate change: UK sea level rise is accelerating

Coastal Erosion in Yorkshire

Coastal erosion has caused part of this road to disappear in Yorkshire

Sea levels are rising much faster than they were a century ago, shows the Met Office’s annual report on Britain’s climate and weather.

The State of the Climate report also says higher temperatures are the new normal for the UK.

Conservationists warn that spring is coming earlier and that flora and fauna are not evolving fast enough to adapt to climate change.

The report again highlights how climate change is affecting the UK.

The UK is warming slightly faster than the average pace of global temperature rise, it also said.

The Met Office assessed climate and weather events for 2021, including extreme events such as Storm Arwen, which caused destructive flooding.

Sea levels have risen about 16.5 cm (6.5 inches) since 1900, but the Met Office says the rate of rise is increasing. They are now increasing at 3-5.2mm per year, which is more than double the rate of growth at the beginning of the last century.

As a result, more and more parts of the coast are exposed to strong storm surges and winds, which harms the environment and houses. Around 500,000 homes are at risk of flooding, according to scientists.

Extreme sea levels during last November’s storm Arwen were only avoided because it occurred during a lower-than-usual tide, explains Dr. Svetlana Jevrejeva from the National Oceanographic Center.

While the coastline is constantly changing, climate change and sea level rise are exaggerating those changes, she told BBC News.

“The scale, the speed and the impact will change, and it will change dramatically very soon,” she explains.

The report also says that while the UK climate in 2021 was “unremarkable” by modern standards, it would have been exceptional 30 years ago. That’s because climate change is changing the planet, making hotter temperatures the norm.

Our planet has warmed by 1.1°C since the Industrial Revolution some 200 years ago. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says this is caused by greenhouse gases from human activities. Global temperatures are expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C over the next 20 years.

Chart showing the 10 hottest days in the UK over the years.

Chart showing the 10 hottest days in the UK over the years.

Had last year’s temperatures taken place in 1992, it would have been one of the warmest years in the UK on record, it is stressed.

“While 1°C of warming may not sound like much, it has meant that highs like the 32.2°C we saw in 2021 have become routine rather than exceptional. This is particularly evident when you consider the record-breaking heat experienced by the UK just last week. ‘ says Mike Kendon of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre.

The changing climate is also bringing spring earlier, affecting plants and animals as well as farmers.

Species that come into foliage early in the year were even earlier last year, but unusually cold temperatures in April caused delays in late-flowering species, the Met Office says.

And September and October were warmer than average, delaying autumn and causing trees to shed their leaves later than usual, explained Professor Tim Sparks of the Woodland Trust.

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