Winter 2002

Climate Change Scenarios

April 2002 saw the launch of a new set of four scenarios of future climate change for the United Kingdom.

The new scenarios were commissioned by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), for the UK Climate Impact Programme. They are collectively known as UKCIP02 and replace the 1998 scenarios.

The scenarios cover four different levels of emissions; low, medium low, medium high and high.

The new scenarios are based on a higher resolution (A 50-km grid rather than a 300-km grid). They provide estimates of changes to extremes of weather and sea level.

All of these climate scenarios will be used as input to research themes covering policy, broad scale modelling, flood forecasting and warning, and engineering.

The focus for flood defence and coast protection will be on adaptation strategies to meet the impacts.

The key results are:

  • UK climate will (indicates high confidence), become warmer by the 2080's for the high emissions scenario. Parts of the Northwest may (this indicates less than high confidence), be up to 4.5 centigrade warmer in the summer.

  • High summer temperatures will become more frequent and very cold winters will become increasingly rare.

  • Winters will become wetter and summers may become dryer. In the Northwest, summer rainfall is predicted to decrease by up to 60% and winter rainfall may increase beyond 30%.

  • Snowfall amount will decrease throughout the UK.

  • Heavy winter precipitation will become more frequent.

  • Relative sea level will continue to rise around most of the UK's shoreline. By the 2080's, sea level may be between 7 cm for low emissions and 67 cm for high emissions above the current level in Northwest England.

    Extreme sea levels will be experienced more frequently. A 1 in 50-year event today could become a 1 in 3 year event by the 2080's.

    Further information is available on the UK Climate Impacts Programme web site: WWW.UKCIP.ORG.UK

    Summary produced by Paul Stainer, Environment Agency