Met report highlights climate risks
A quarter of people in the UK could suffer more water shortages by the end of the century without action to tackle climate change, the Met Office has warned.
However, the changing climate could also mean almost all of the agricultural land currently farmed in the UK will become more suitable for growing crops, largely as a result of decreasing frosts and cold nights as the country warms.
A series of projections charting the predicted impacts of global warming on 24 countries around the world also revealed that, in a worst-case scenario, there could be a three-and-a-half times greater risk of river flooding in the UK.
As many as 160,000 more people could be at risk of coastal flooding in the face of sea level rises, while 24 per cent of the population in 2100 – around 18 million people – could face increased pressure on their water supplies.
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The latest warning on the impacts of climate change, launched during international talks on tackling global warming in Durban, South Africa, comes in the wake of one of the driest 12 months on record for some parts of Britain.
Parts of the south and south east of England are already facing pressure on water resources, and those regions are likely to see an increase in the frequency of droughts and water scarcity, the Exeter-based Met Office Hadley Centre report said.
The study confirmed that the UK was already getting warmer as a result of climate change, experiencing 35 more unseasonably warm days a year in this decade than in the 1960s.
The Met Office projects temperatures could rise by 3C above the 1960-1990 average of 8.3C in the south and 2.5C in the north of the UK without global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Elsewhere in the world the analysis, which used 21 climate models to come up with a range of projected impacts for each country, found that up to 49 million more people worldwide would be at risk of coastal flooding by 2100.
Up to five million extra people could be threatened by coastal flooding in Bangladesh and as many as 19 million more at risk in China.
The data showed all 24 countries studied would see more people at risk of coastal flooding as sea levels rise.
Farmland in the US could also become less suitable for agriculture.
The UK wants a legally binding global agreement to keep the global temperature rise below 2C.