The Wine Region Of Devon & CornwallPosted on: 11 June 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves
Farmers in Devon and Cornwall could be challenging vintners in France by 2080 as climate change transforms the southwest into a balmy wine-growing region.
Forecasters predict that temperatures could rise by 3C to 4C, making the West Country ideal for growing crops such as grapes, sweetcorn and sunflowers.
Meanwhile, commuters in London will be left sweltering as peak temperatures spiral as high as 41C.
The projections are part of the first national study on how climate change might affect different parts of Britain.
Some may question how the Met Office can make predictions a lifetime into the future, when it struggles to produce forecasts for the next few months. However, climate change impacts are predicted to be so strong that, over decades, they are easier to predict than short-term changes.
The projections could have an important economic impact, particularly on property prices, with land predicted to be at risk of future floods or droughts losing value. This could particularly affect cities such as London and Hull.
Conversely, homes in Devon, Cornwall or even south Wales could rise in value. The new study is expected to confirm existing reports saying that temperatures there could rise and cloud cover decrease in summer and autumn.
Scotland and the north of England could also benefit with average winter temperatures rising by up to 2.6C.
The picture is similar in Wales where predicted temperature rises of up to 2.9C by 2080 could make Wales a more attractive tourist destination.
In East Anglia, by contrast, average annual temperatures could rise by 4C with summer rainfall decreasing by up to 60%, making what is now the agricultural breadbasket of England increasingly arid.
London is predicted to suffer the worst with a combination of global warming and the so-called urban heat-island effect pushing daytime summer temperatures to stiflingly hot peaks of 41C by 2080, compared with a maximum of 31C now.
Myles Allen, head of climate dynamics at Cambridge University, says, "Cities in the Midlands and south, are going to start experiencing some increasingly uncomfortable summers."
The research will be published by the UK Climate Impacts Programme set up by the government to help plan for long-term climate change. The Met Office’s Hadley Centre used its supercomputers to model how Britain’s climate might change from now until 2099. The full results will be published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on June 18.
The Met Office projections will offer three main scenarios for Britain’s future climate, the worst of which assumes greenhouse gas emissions will continue to grow fast. Many scientists consider this most likely, and the figures quoted above are based on this scenario. For each scenario it will set out the most and least likely changes in climate.
Nigel Arnell, professor of climate science and director of the Walker Institute at Reading University, says, "These projections offer us guidance on what is likely rather than certain."
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