Projected risks associated with heat stress in the UK Climate Projections (UKCP18)

Alan Kennedy-Asser, Gwilym Owen, Gareth J. Griffith, Oliver Andrews, Y. T. Eunice Lo, Dann M. Mitchell, Katie Jenkins, Rachel F. Warren

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Abstract

Summer heat extremes in the UK pose a risk to health (amongst other sectors) and this is exacerbated by localised socio-economic factors that contribute to vulnerability. Here, regional climate model simulations from the UK Climate Projections are used to assess how different elements of extreme heat will vary across the UK in the future under global mean surface temperature warming levels of +1.5 °C, +2.0 °C and +3.0 °C above pre-industrial. Heat stress metrics incorporating daily maximum and minimum temperature, temperature variability and vapour pressure are included. These show qualitatively similar spatial patterns for the recent past, with the most pronounced heat hazards found in south-eastern regions of the UK. Projected heat hazard changes across the UK are not homogeneous, with southern regions (e.g. Greater London, South East) showing greater increases in maximum temperatures and northern regions (e.g. Scotland and Northern Ireland) showing greater increases in humidity. With +3.0 °C warming, the relative change in combined heat hazards is found to be greatest in the south-western UK, however, in absolute terms, south-eastern regions will still experience the greatest hazards. When combined with socio-economic factors, hotspots of high heat stress risk emerge in parts of London, the Midlands and eastern England along with southern and eastern coastal regions. Weighting of different heat risk factors is subjective and to this end we have developed and made available an interactive app which allows users to assess sensitivities and uncertainties in the projected UK heat risk.
Original languageEnglish
Article number034024
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume17
Issue number3
Early online date24 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • app
  • climate
  • heat
  • risk
  • UK
  • UKCP18

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