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Daily Briefing

27.07.2018
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Bake to the future: Britain is braced for an epidemic of summer heatwaves lasting DECADES as temperatures set to hit a July record of 37C
Bake to the future: Britain is braced for an epidemic of summer heatwaves lasting DECADES as temperatures set to hit a July record of 37C

News.

Bake to the future: Britain is braced for an epidemic of summer heatwaves lasting DECADES as temperatures set to hit a July record of 37C

The frontcover of the Sun leads with a story saying that “Britain faces a future of baking summers every year for decades, experts [have] warned”. It continues: “As the nation sweated yesterday, it emerged that red-hot summers may become an annual event. Prof Peter Stott of the Met Office said: ‘Since 1976, global temperatures have increased significantly. The risk of extreme heatwaves is increasing rapidly worldwide due to greenhouse gas emissions. ‘This summer we are seeing an expression of that increased risk. It’s human-induced climate change that has made such a situation as we’ve seen in 2018 more likely.’ The current heatwave began on June 24 and is the longest since the drought of 1976.” Meanwhile, Reuters is among many news outlets report the continuing heatwave being felt over much of the UK: “Britons sweltered in a prolonged heatwave on Thursday, with temperatures hitting a year high and set to test national records on Friday, the Meteorological Office said. The temperature reached 34.9 degrees Celsius at Heathrow Airport, officially making it the hottest day of the year so far, the Met Office said. It forecast a 20-30% chance of Britain seeing an all-time highest temperature this week and a 70% chance of a record high for July.” However, thunderstorm breaking earlier than expected overnight across many northern and eastern parts of the country have reduced the probability of a new record being set today, says BBC News. “The all-time British record is 38.5C set in August 2003 near Faversham in Kent, southeast England, while the highest July temperature was 36.7C in 2015 at Heathrow airport,” says Reuters. The Guardian is running a live blog of the UK heatwave throughout today. Carbon Brief has published a detailed summary of the media reaction to the heatwaves.

The Sun Read Article
Low-carbon power provides half of UK electricity, figures show

Half of the UK’s electricity came from low-carbon sources such as wind turbines and nuclear power in 2017, according to new official figures released by the department of business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS). The Press Association says: “Renewables including wind, solar, biomass and hydropower provided a record 29.3% of Britain’s electricity in 2017, up from just under a quarter the previous year, as more wind turbines and solar farms were put up. Half of the power from renewables came from offshore wind farms, which generated 6.2% of overall power, and onshore turbines, which provided 8.6%. There was a shift away from coal and gas towards renewables, with coal’s share of electricity generation falling to just 6.7% and gas power dropping to 40.4% of the mix, the annual Digest of UK Energy Statistics (Dukes) said.” The Sun runs the story of page 2 of its print edition under the headline: “UK lecyy 50% eco.” The figures confirm Carbon Brief analysis published in January.

Press Association via Belfast Telegraph Read Article
EU relaxes climate stance in trade sop to Trump

Climate Home News says that on Wednesday at a meeting between Donald Trump and Jean-Claude Juncker at the White House about US-EU trade barriers the “European Commission abandoned its customary climate hard talk in a bid to defuse trade tensions with the US”. It continues: “In a joint statement, they agreed to launch ‘a close dialogue on standards in order to ease trade, reduce bureaucratic obstacles, and slash costs’. There was no mention of upholding the Paris climate deal or environmental protections. Instead, it called for more trade in liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US to the EU. That’s a break from recent EU rhetoric.”

Climate Home News Read Article
MPs to probe clean technology's role in meeting UK carbon targets

BusinessGreen reports that an MP-led inquiry into the technologies needed to support the UK government’s clean growth strategy and meet the UK’s legally binding climate change targets has been launched by the Commons’ science and technology committee: “Written evidence is being sought by the committee until 26 October as part of the inquiry…It will look at how the development and deployment of clean technology can be best supported, and to what extent technologies can help meet future emissions reduction goals.”

BusinessGreen Read Article

Comment.

The Guardian view on the heatwave: our climate is endangered

Many publications are continuing to publish commentary and analysis about the on-going heatwaves affected many parts of the northern hemisphere. An editorial in the Guardian says that “one of the conversations” needs to be about adaptation: “Since some effects of climate change are now inevitable, we must deal with them. As this week’s [environmental audit] committee report says [Carbon Brief has an in-depth summary], building regulations must be altered to ensure heat resilience, and new measures must be brought in to improve drainage and water efficiency.” An editorial in London’s Evening Standard says “we should plan for more years like this…The heat will go out of the news for now. But the battle for the future of our climate won’t go away”. An accompanying opinion piece in the Evening Standard by Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate change at WWF-UK, says: “It’s a sign of a planet in crisis – one that needs urgent action to tackle climate change and conserve water.” In the Scotsman, Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Mary Church says: “What we are witnessing now is the impact of a mere 1C of warming. The impacts of 1.5C, 2C or more will be far, far worse.” In the Times, science editor Tom Whipple writes that recent extreme events mean “it is impossible to ignore climate change”. In the Irish edition of the Times, an editorial says: “We should not need any more wake-up calls on global warming but, alas, Ireland’s record in this area unfortunately suggests otherwise.” A long feature on the heatwaves in the Economist, which cites Carbon Brief analysis, says “worryingly, such weather events may not remain unusual”. On a similar theme, the Washington Post has a feature headlined: “Climate change is supercharging a hot and dangerous summer.” New York magazine has asked David Wallace-Wells, who wrote one of last year’s most-shared articles on climate change, to look at the subject again. His feature is headlined: “How Did the End of the World Become Old News?” It examines the media’s “self censorship” of linking climate change to extreme events. Grist has a piece by Eric Holthaus labelled, “The UK is tropically hot right now. 6 maps show why.” The Financial Times has a spoof “diary of a sweaty climate change sceptic” written by Henry Mace. On Politics.co.uk, Tom Chivers looks at why the “BBC is still vulnerable to false balance on climate change”. He quotes Carbon Brief editor Leo Hickman. Similarly, a feature in Climate Home News examines “how the UK media changed its tune on climate change”. The Guardian has posted a video explainer on “why is it so hot?” And, finally, BBC World ran a special last night called “Feeling the Heat” interviewing a range of climate change experts.

Editorial, The Guardian Read Article

Science.

Modelled and observed multidecadal variability in the North Atlantic jet stream and its connection to Sea Surface Temperatures

Multi-decadal variability in the North Atlantic jet stream in general circulation models (GCMs) is different from what is found in reanalysis products for the 20th Century. While models show somewhat random variability, in the observed record the variability is greatly enhanced in the late winter. This late winter variability exceeds that found in any GCM. While the late winter variability is not found to be closely connected with external forcing, it is found to be strongly related to the internally generated component of Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV) in Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs). This analysis reveals a fundamental mismatch between late winter jet stream variability in observations and GCMs and a potential source of long term predictability of the late winter Atlantic atmospheric circulation.

Journal of Climate Read Article
Characterizing the spatial scales of extreme daily precipitation in the United States

The spatial extent of an extreme precipitation events can be important for estimating flood risk. This paper uses data from the Global Historic Climatological Network – Daily (GHCN-D) station network to directly quantify the spatial extent of extreme daily precipitation over the United States during 1965-2014. Over the eastern half of the United States, daily extreme precipitation length scales reach 400km during the winter months, but are approximately half as large during the summer months. The Northwest region, on the other hand, exhibits little seasonal variation, with extreme precipitation length scales of approximately 150km throughout the year. Their study avoids some of the uncertainties associated with satellite or interpolated precipitation data, and provides the longest climatological assessment of length scales of extreme daily precipitation over the United States to date.

Journal of Climate Read Article

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