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2022 UK Heatwave: The Shape of Things to Come

2022 UK Heatwave: The Shape of Things to Come

Last month, we held our first Conveyancing Climate Change Conference in the cool and impressive surroundings of the Law Society Common Room. One of our key speakers Tyrone Dunbar at the Met Office delivered a session that included a weather forecast from July 2050. It was greeted with a mixture of shock and awe that we could reach such temperatures in the country……and yet, here we are on the 19th July 2022 – a full generation earlier than we thought, with exactly the same forecast.

This week, we are breaking all manner of temperature records: Wales recorded its highest ever temperature of 37.1C and Surrey recorded the highest overnight minimum of 25.8C – truly tropical.

And today: we hit a new all-time UK high – provisionally 40.3C at Coningsby, Lincolnshire. Just extraordinary that this has been reached at this latitude on the planet.

Just another heatwave, right?

Many are comparing this heatwave to the famous one of 1976, but it is just not the same. While 1976 had water shortages and standpipes in the streets and many days where the temperature was in the 30s, the high was a mere 35.9C – and it was an isolated event.

Comparison between 1976 and 2022 heat patterns across the globe – Sources: NASA, BBC

You can see from the above NASA chart that it was quite localised to Western Europe at the time. Fast forward to 2022 with the same chart updated on the right and you can see that the heat is far more extensive across the globe. The heat is also more intense, as is the rate of temperature climb.

Today, the 19th July, saw Charlwood in Surrey gain from 26C at 0600 to a new all-time high by midday of 39.1C – a 13 degree climb in 6 hours – and it didn’t stop there elsewhere! By the same times day-on-day, it was 5C higher, showing the cumulative impact of high temperatures on baked ground at night.

The Supertanker needs to turn Now

It is part of a pattern that has seen the 10 warmest years on record occurring since 2002. Heatwaves are one of the most obvious weather phenomena that we can apply to the impact of human activity. Dr Nikos Christidis, Climate Scientist at the Met Office says that it is 10 times more likely for the UK to see a 40C day than in a climate unaffected by human influence.

Carbon emissions continue to accelerate despite COP26 pledges and will take many years to correct themselves, even if we halve them by the 2030 target that we set ourselves as a nation. But our pledges are small in the face of the supertankers that need to turn around now too – India, China, the US.

So it is all the more remarkable then, facing this situation and the temperature records that tumbled this week, that the forecast presented by Tyrone Dunbar at our climate change conference has become a reality nearly a generation early. It makes you wonder what it will ACTUALLY be like in 2050 at this rate.

See Tyrone’s session in full here

Its Time to Talk Climate with your Clients

This week is no clearer indication that we are already deep into a climate emergency. Heatwaves are one of a range of factors driving climate change impacts to our properties and communities. Its impact on high levels of clay shrink-swell subsidence and insurance claims may well be the next chapter written in the legacy of the 2022 heatwave.

But with the breakdown in heat, comes the risk of thunderstorms and flash flooding. With bone dry soils, the speed of the runoff could be extreme and lead to some major surface and river flooding incidents in the coming days and weeks. So, the threat evolves.

For all these reasons, you need to be advising your client about climate change risk impacts now.

Our ClimateIndex ™ module provided automatically at no extra cost in our key residential and commercial environmental search reports, ensures your client can see ahead on the physical risks that could affect their property asset. It offers friction-free, compliance-ready due diligence on climate change based on conditions now, the typical mortgage term and resale periods.

We are also offering training and support on how ClimateIndex analysis can assist you with your client care and Report on Title for climate risks.

Speak to your property search provider or contact us now on 01273 257 755 or email for more information.


Jul 19, 2022

David Kempster