In the News

July 2022 Heatwave 'Almost Impossible' Without Human-induced Climate Change

Alice Griffiths

29th July 2022

Climate scientists have linked last week’s record-breaking temperatures to human activity that has led to the enhanced greenhouse effect.

The World Weather Attribution group warned of further extreme heat events to come in the UK. In addition, they highlighted the fact that such weather events pose ‘a substantial risk to human health and are potentially lethal’. Read more about their main findings here.

Perhaps of even greater interest to geographers is the WWA’s Reporting extreme weather and climate change: A guide for journalists.

This fascinating guide to natural hazards (including heatwaves) walks reporters through six different types of hazard and the extent to which they may be attributed to human-induced climate change. Its authors are clear that there is a risk of being 'journalistically inaccurate' if writers are overly cautious when linking heatwaves and climate change. Further it notes that disasters are more than extreme weather because socio-economic factors are at play:

‘When reporting about extreme weather events it is important to highlight that, independent of climate change, natural hazards … become disasters are a result of societal vulnerability’

See also the ‘One-page Checklist’ at the end of guide for journalists, which is chock-full of evaluative points about different types of natural hazard and links to climate change. Great content for essay questions that require students to evaluate the impact of anthropogenic change within the carbon cycle on hazards.

The UK's first ever red warning for exceptional heat came into force at midnight on Monday 18th July, as government and health officials tried to convey to the public that they needed to adapt to the weather. Many schools closed!

On 19th July a new record daily maximum temperature of 40.3 degrees C was recorded in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, exceeding the previous record by a huge 1.6 degrees C. The Met Office summary of the event can be found here.

Alice Griffiths

Alice Griffiths has taught Geography over a period of almost twenty years. She is a published author and editor of a wide range of A level resources and has created award-winning, online content for younger students. An occasional presenter at the GA’s annual conference, she was head of department at an 11-18 school until 2020.

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