Will The 40 Degree Heatwave Become A ‘New Normal’?

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If there is one thing people will have been yearning for in recent days, it is water. Whether drinking it, swimming in it or even pouring it over their heads to cool themselves down, many Britons will have been reaching for the H2O as the temperatures soared.

For those unfortunate enough to be working in offices, water coolers will no doubt have had lots of usage. But as the temperatures climbed to 40 degrees C in parts of the country for the first time on record, households will have been turning the taps on a lot too.

This situation may have been a lot more pleasant for those with a mains water filter in areas with harder water.

Hard water brings a number of issues with it. It can be less pleasant to drink, can clog up kettles and other appliances with limescale and can also irritate the skin and cause hair to thin. For those who might be keen to get wet more often, this is not good news.

All this means having means of filtering your water to soften it could be particularly good news when you are using a lot of it on yourself - not to mention when you wash your clothes.

The question some may ask is; just how likely is this. Will it be the norm for summers in the UK to be blisteringly hot, with 40 degrees a common feature of the season and households turning on the cold taps to quench their thirst and fill the kid’s paddling pool more than ever?

Such questions cannot be definitively answered, not least as the longer-term impacts on the climate will depend on how reliably governments stick to pledges to cut emissions and find greener technologies, as well as how successful scientific developments from renewable energy and electric cars to carbon capture turn out to be.

Reflecting on the record temperatures - which were not just England’s hottest (40.3 degrees C at Coningsby in Lincolnshire) but also the highest on record for Wales (37.1 C in Hawarden) and Scotland (35.1 C at Floors Castle in Roxburghshire), the Met Office has considered the implications of the unprecedented heatwave.

Head of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre Dr Mark McCarthy said: “A new UK national climate temperature record should be a rare occurrence, and we would normally expect a new record to only exceed the previous one by a fraction of a degree,” noting that in this case the record was 1.6 C higher.

Met Office Chief Scientist Professor Stephen Belcher made clear that anthropocentric warming is undoubtedly to blame. He stated: “In a climate unaffected by human influence, climate modelling shows that it is virtually impossible for temperatures in the UK to reach 40 degrees C.”

He added that based on current models, a worst case scenario in which governments and industry fail to make good pledges to cut emissions could see 40 C days happening every three years in the UK by the end of the century.

It may not turn out anything like as bad as that, of course. But even if leading industrial countries hit net zero carbon levels by 2050, it seems there will be lots of seriously hot summer days to come, making the need for clean, pleasant water to cool off more important than ever.