“We have had significant droughts in the past, but this summer has been exceptionally dry,” said Dr. Gemma Coxon, a hydrology expert at the University of Bristol. “The main driver has been climate change,” she said, adding that the increasingly dry summer months coupled with record rainfall in winters could heighten the risk of major flooding in the country.
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Severe deluges have occurred frequently in Britain in the past decade and a half, with particularly dramatic floods in 2000, 2007 and 2012.
“What we saw in 2012, after a severe drought, was a lot of flooding and quicker runoff into rivers,” said Ms. Coxon. “If we see significant amounts of rainfall in the autumn, falling on very dry and compacted soils, that will certainly lead to an increased risk of flooding.”
“Water companies are already managing the unprecedented effects of the driest winter and spring since the 1970s, and with more hot, dry weather forecast, it’s crucial we be even more mindful of our water use to minimize spikes in demand and ensure there’s enough to go around,” Peter Jenkins, director of communications for the industry body Water UK, said in a statement.
Extreme heat waves, fueled by global warming, have been hitting much of Western and Central Europe with more increasing frequency and intensity than almost any other part of the world, according to scientists. The heat waves last month have led to devastating wildfires across France, Spain, Italy and Greece — countries that are historically unaccustomed to the threat of extreme heat and are now scrambling to adapt and stay habitable.
The Met Office, Britain’s national weather service, issued an extreme-heat warning through Sunday for much of the southern half of England and for parts of Wales, underscoring that the soaring temperatures could not only disrupt travel but also raise the risk of heat-related illnesses for certain groups.