The Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (DCIoS) Local Resilience Forum (LRF) has formed a Climate Impacts Group (CIG) that is developing a Climate Adaptation Plan as part of climate emergency initiatives ongoing in across the peninsular.  

This paper has been prepared by the CIG and demonstrates how the climate is changing, how it is projected to change and the effects for South West England. This will be used to inform the preparation of the Adaption Plan.  

Global Climate Change, judging from the debate on the subject, is one of the major concerns of the world today, and is recognized as the foremost environmental problem of the twenty-first century.  

Climate Change refers to a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns and average temperatures. But what is the difference between weather and climate? The main difference between weather and climate is that they each refer to a different timescale. Weather is happening now today, and is all about the present conditions, for example, temperatures, rainfall, cloudiness, sunshine, wind speeds and visibility. Climate, on the other hand, is the average of these conditions over longer time periods ranging from years to decades, but usually 20 – 30 years. Whilst there is natural variability in both weather and climate, ‘Climate Change’ refers to systematic, large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns and average temperatures. 

The latest Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and that it is extremely likely (>95% confidence) that human influence has been the primary cause of warming. Scientists know that 20th and 21st century Climate Change is largely caused by human activities from: 

  1. Basic physics: since the mid-1800s, scientists have known that carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and other “greenhouse gases” (GHG) influence the Earth’s energy balance. Observations of warming during the 20th and 21st centuries match theoretical calculations based on the rise in atmospheric CO2.  

For example, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose by 40% during the 20th and 21st century and is now over 400ppm (parts per million). This level of carbon dioxide is higher than at any time in the past 800,000 years. 

The graph above the rising level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere since 1960, measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. 
  1. Comparing observations with models: climate model simulations which only include natural influences such as the sun and volcanic eruptions don’t match the observed rise in global temperature. 
  1. Fingerprinting: different influences on climate are known to leave different signatures or ‘fingerprints’ in historic climate records. Human influences can be identified in the spatial patterns of climate change observed over the Earth’s surface and through the atmosphere and ocean 

How are humans changing the climate?  

In the 11,000 years before the Industrial Revolution, the average temperature across the world was stable at around 14°C.  

Since the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800s, humans have produced GHG in a variety of ways, which have been released into the air, such as carbon dioxide CO2, methane CH4, and nitrous oxides NOx, and form a ‘blanket’ around the planet. This blanket traps the heat from the sun and causes the earth to heat up.  

This effect was noticed as far back as the 1980s. In 1988, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up to provide governments with information to tackle climate change.  

Evidence has shown that the high levels of GHG in the atmosphere are the leading cause of increasing global temperatures. 

  • Burning fossil fuels for heat and energy – Fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal contain carbon dioxide CO2 that has been ‘locked away’ in the ground for thousands of years. When we take these out of the land and burn them, we release the stored carbon dioxide CO2 into the air. 
“Fossil CO2 emissions of all world countries – 2018 Report”. Publications Office of the European Union. 

(The key drawback of measuring the total national emissions is that it takes no account of the nation’s population size. China is currently the world’s largest emitter, but since it also has the largest population, all being equal we would expect this to be the case. To make a fair comparison of contributions, we would need to compare emissions in terms of CO2 emitted per person.)  

One-quarter of human-made greenhouse gas emissions come from burning fossil fuels for electricity and heat production 

Chart showing the human-made greenhouse gas emissions
This chart shows the human-made greenhouse gas emissions, taken from the IPCC AR5 report. AFOLU stands for Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use 
  • Deforestation – Forests remove and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Cutting them down means that carbon dioxide builds up quicker since there are no trees to absorb it. Not only that, trees release the carbon they stored when we burn them. 
  • Agriculture – Planting crops and rearing animals releases many different types of GHG into the air. For example, animals produce methane CH4, which is 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide COas a greenhouse gas. The nitrous oxide NOx used for fertilisers is ten times worse and is nearly 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide CO2
  • Cement – Producing cement is another contributor to climate change, causing 2% of our entire carbon dioxide COemissions. 

GHG absorb thermal infra-red radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere, and clouds, causing the planet to warm. Global average surface temperature has increased by about 1 °C since the 1850s.  

A graph showing the global average temperature change from 1850 to 2018, compared to the 1961-1990 average. The plot continues to rise since the 1960s.
The plot above shows the global temperature change from 1850 to 2016, compared to the 1961-1990 average temperature. 

Average global temperatures have risen by more than 1°C since the 1850s. 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 were the hottest years ever recorded. The figures show us that the planet has been warming since the industrial revolution.  

Aerosol emissions have partly offset the warming effect from GHG, as they mostly reflect radiation from the sun back into space, and their overall effect is one of cooling. However, some aerosols such as black carbon (soot) have a warming effect, particularly in regions such as the Arctic where they can substantially change the reflectivity of the surface. 

What about natural sources of CO2? 

Natural systems, such as plants and animals on the land and in the oceans, produce a large amount of carbon, but they absorb it too. This cycle has been delicately balanced for thousands of years, but human influence has offset that balance to send the levels of CO2 rising. Natural sinks such as the ocean and vegetation are absorbing about half the GHG emitted by human activities, so they have reduced the amount that would otherwise have ended up in the atmosphere. 

What about volcanoes? 

Erupting volcanoes can have a significant effect on our climate. They emit large amounts of ‘aerosols’ (suspended dust particles, which have a cooling effect as they reflect the sun’s energy back into space) as well as CO2. However, volcanic emissions of CO2 are well below the levels emitted by human activities over the past century. 

What about changes in solar energy? 

Changes in the amount of solar energy the earth receives from the sun can impact our global climate. Changes in solar output may have contributed to some of the warming observed in the early 20 century, but these changes explain less than 10% of the increase in global average surface temperature that has been observed since the late 19 century. 

Isn’t it just a natural cycle? 

There is natural variability in Earth’s climate, but the rate and persistence of current climate change cannot be explained by any natural climate cycles. Natural phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña, and volcanic eruptions cause changes in global temperature on relatively short timescales (months to years), which can lead to periods with little or no warming, both globally and regionally, and other periods with very rapid warming. The long-term trend, however, is clear that human activities have been the dominant cause of the observed rise in global temperature since the mid-20 century. 

Climate change is already having visible effects on the world. The Earth is warming, rainfall patterns are changing, and sea levels are rising. These changes can increase the risk of heatwaves, floods, droughts, and fires. 

What are the effects of climate change? 

A changing climate impacts crop growth and human health, while many people may need to leave their homes. It places certain species at an increased risk of extinction. The effects of climate change are real, and they are already happening. 

The level of climate change we will see depends on how quickly we cut emissions of dangerous GHG. Even if we were to stop all emissions today, we would not prevent some changes. However, the sooner we cut emissions, the smaller the changes will be.  

Image showing some of the drivers of climate change and its impacts
The image above illustrates some of the drivers of climate change and the impacts they could have on the climate system. 

In a recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C of global warming. But unless we reduce emissions rapidly, the world is likely to exceed 2°C of warming. By the end of this century, warming could potentially reach 4°C, possibly more.  

Climate change will increase the risk of different problems around the world. Though developed countries produce most greenhouse gas emissions, developing countries are predicted to see most of the severe effects. With fewer resources to adapt to these changes, the impact on people in developing countries is expected to be higher.  

Effects of climate change on the planet 

A warming planet leads to many other changes in our climate. As the planet warms, heatwaves become more likely. Over the past few years, heatwaves have been the deadliest global weather hazard. 

Oceans absorb 90% of the extra heat generated by human influence. However, when water heats up, it expands to take up more volume. So, when oceans heat up, they expand too, causing the sea level to rise. We also have extra water flowing into the ocean from melting ice sheets and glaciers. Between 1902 and 2015, the global average sea level has risen by 16 centimetres. 

Some parts of the planet, such as the north and south pole, warm more quickly than other places. At the poles, glaciers and ice sheets reflect energy from the sun into space. So, when there is less ice, less energy from the sun is reflected away. The area then heats even more quickly, causing even more ice to melt.  

The ice in the Arctic is melting fast. It is already 65% thinner than it was in 1975, and if we do not reduce emissions soon, we could see ice-free summers in the Arctic by the middle of this century.  

When ice sheets and glaciers melt, freshwater flows into the sea. As well as making the sea level rise, freshwater also reduces the salinity (saltiness) of the water, which can slow or change ocean currents. 

Oceans also absorb around 25% of the carbon dioxide that humans release into the air. The oceans then become less alkaline; a process called ‘ocean acidification’. Ocean acidification is bad because it can have negative effects on marine organisms, like coral and plankton, which are an important part of the food chain. 

In the future, the Met Office project that the UK will see: 

  • Warmer and wetter winters 
  • Hotter and drier summers 
  • More frequent and intense weather extremes 

** Marvel et al 2019 provides new evidence drought increased in some regions during specific periods since 1900 (with aerosols possibly masking the trend when it is not detectable), and that this is connected to climate change. 

*** Possible decrease in frequency and possible increase in intensity (and associated rainfall). 

Warmer air can hold more water, so rainfall is increasing on average across the world. In some places, rainfall is becoming more intense as well. However, some areas receive less rain because of changes in wind patterns. 

Effects of climate change on humans 

We are already experiencing the effects of a changing climate. Rising sea levels cause problems for people around the world. Nearly 4 in 10 people (39%) live within 100 kilometres from a shoreline and are at risk of flooding if sea levels continue to rise. 600 million of these people live in a ‘low-level coastal zone’, and 200 million on a coastal flood plain. 

Even if we cut emissions, sea levels are expected to continue to rise beyond the year 2100. But, if we reduce emissions enough, we can slow the rate of increase. Many people will have to leave their homes, but the number will vary depending on how we act, by reducing global emissions and improving flood defences. Floods can also happen when heavy rainfall overwhelms drainage systems or bursts riverbanks. In heavily concreted urban areas and cities, the effect is more severe because the water cannot sink 

directly into the soil. Flooding causes severe damage to buildings and transportation, which can be very costly and hard to recover.  

As our climate warms and rainfall patterns change, it may be harder to grow enough food in some areas. The climate will change which crops can grow in different regions. Some places may be able to grow new crops, but many places will experience reduced crop production, especially in hotter countries.  

Colder countries are likely to see higher yields because there will be a longer growing season and higher carbon dioxide concentrations. However, these effects may not last if warming continues in the longer term. More extreme weather events could also disrupt access to food, impacting transport from farms to shops, which can affect vulnerable people. 

As you can see, climate change has a lot of effects, and they impact people around the world in different ways. The level of impact depends on the climate of the area and the wealth of the country. Climate change effects are ‘stress multipliers’, which means that they often make existing problems more severe.  

Let’s look at heatwaves, for example. We expect most regions will experience more intense heatwaves. In countries that are already hot, the human heat stress limits will be exceeded more often, which is dangerous.  

Another example – increase in flooding is another danger. Countries that flood regularly, such as Bangladesh, are expected to see even more regular floods, putting more communities at risk. 

This Munich RE graph shows natural hazard events causing loss are becoming more frequent 

If our climate continues to change, many parts of the world will become more challenging places to live. People may have to leave their homes. Climate is just one of many factors that influences human migration, but it will play an increasing role in the future.  

Climate change can also affect people and ecosystems. For example: 

  • Flooding of coastal regions – Coastal cities are at risk from flooding as sea levels continue to rise.  
  • Food insecurity – High temperatures, extreme weather events, flooding, and droughts can damage farmland. This makes it difficult for farmers to grow crops and means that their yield of crops each year is uncertain. 
  • Conflict and climate migrants – Climate change is a stress multiplier – it can take existing problems, such as lack of food or shelter, and make them worse. This can cause people to fight over resources (food, water, and shelter), or to migrate. 
  • Damage to marine ecosystems – Rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and ocean anoxia (lack of oxygen) are damaging to marine life such as fish and coral reefs. 

Effects of climate change in the UK 

Climate change is causing warming across the UK. Here is a summary from a temperature perspective up to the end of 2019: 

  • 2019 was the 12th warmest year for the UK in a series from 1884, and 24th warmest for Central England in a series from 1659. 
  • Four national UK high temperature records were set in 2019: a new all‐time record (38.7°C), a new winter record (21.2°C), a new December record (18.7°C) and a new February minimum temperature record (13.9°C). No national low temperature records were set. 
  • February 2019 was the second warmest February in the series from 1884 and the warmest February for daily maximum temperature. 
  • All the top 10 warmest years for the UK in the series from 1884 have occurred since 2002. 
  • The most recent decade (2010–2019) has been on average 0.3°C warmer than the 1981–2010 average and 0.9°C warmer than 1961–1990. 
  • The Central England Temperature (CET) series provides evidence that the 21st century so far has overall been warmer than the previous three centuries 

By 2050, heatwaves like that seen in 2019 are expected to happen every other year.  UK winters are projected to become warmer and wetter on average, although cold or dry winters will still occur sometimes. Summers are projected to become hotter and are more likely to be drier, although wetter summers are also possible.  

Heavy rainfall is also more likely, but snow is less likely. Here is a summary of a precipitation perspective up to and including 2019: 

  • England and Wales had its fifth wettest autumn in a series from 1766, although much less wet overall than autumn 2000 (the wettest autumn in the series). 
  • Six of the 10 wettest years for the UK in a series from 1862 have occurred since 1998. 
  • The most recent decade (2010–2019) has been on average 1% wetter than 1981–2010 and 5% wetter than 1961–1990 for the UK overall 
  • For the most recent decade (2010–2019) UK summers have been on average 11% wetter than 1981–2010 and 13% wetter than 1961–1990. UK winters have been 4% wetter than 1981–2010 and 12% wetter than 1961–1990 
  • Since 1998, the UK has seen seven of the ten wettest years on record. The winter storms in 2015 were at least 40% more likely because of climate change 
  • 2019 was not a snowy year overall. It was not unusual in the context of the last two decades, but if compared to the last 60 years it was one of the least snowy years on record 
  • Widespread and substantial snow events have occurred in 2018, 2013, 2010 and 2009, but their number and severity have generally declined since the 1960s 

Even if we do reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels around the UK will keep rising beyond 2100. Parts of the UK will be in danger of flooding, with low lying and coastal cities at particular risk. Here is the latest information up to the end of 2019; 

  • The UK mean sea level index for 2019 was the highest in the series from 1901, although uncertainties in the series mean caution is needed when comparing individual years. 
  • Mean sea level around the UK has risen by approximately 1.4 mm/year from the start of the 20th century, when excluding the effect of vertical land movement. 
  • The 99th percentile water level (exceeded 1% of the time) at Newlyn, Cornwall for year 2019 was the third highest in the series from 1916, behind years 2014 and 2018 

In 50 years’ time, by 2070 the Met Office project: 

  • Winter will be between 1 and 4.5°C warmer and up to 30% wetter 
  • Summer will be between 1 and 6°C warmer and up to 60% drier 

Farming in the UK will be affected by climate change, too. Hotter weather and higher levels of CO2 may make growing some crops easier, or even allow us to produce new ones. However, with more droughts expected, water may not be as easy to access, making it harder for farmers to plan the growing season. 

Floods, storms, and extreme heat can cause damage to buildings, disrupt transport, and affect health. Buildings and infrastructure need to be adapted to cope with the new conditions. Businesses will have to plan around a changing climate. To help the UK understand what climate change means for the nation, the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment is published every 5 years. More details of the future conditions expected for the UK are available in the UK Climate Projections (UKCP18).  

The UK Climate Projections (UKCP18) provides the most up-to-date assessment of how the climate of the UK may change over the 21st century. Find information to help with your climate change risk assessments and adaptation plans. 

The UK Climate Projections (UKCP18) is a climate analysis tool that forms part of the Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme which is supported by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). 

As we have read, since the Industrial Revolution, the average temperature of the planet has risen by around 1°C. This is a rapid change in terms of our global climate system. Previously, natural global changes are understood to have happened over much longer periods of time. It is also important to remember that the world is not warming evenly, so the temperature increase is higher than 1°C in some countries. 

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/binaries/content/gallery/metofficegovuk/images/weather/learn-about/climate/global-temperature-spiral-graph.png
This graph above shows the average global temperature for each month, from 1850 to 2017. The temperature increases as you move away from the centre of the circle 
https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/binaries/content/gallery/metofficegovuk/images/weather/maps-and-charts/climate-stripes.png
This image shows that the five warmest years in the UK have all occurred since 2006. Cooler years are blue, while warmer years are red 

Key findings from the State of the UK Climate 2020 report: 

All of the top-ten warmest years for the UK in records back to 1884 have occurred since 2002, and, for central England, the 21st century so far has been warmer than the previous three centuries. 

The UK’s climate has continued to warm, with 2020 the first year to have temperature, rain, and sunshine rankings all in the top 10. 

2020 was the first year that the annual values for rainfall, temperature and sunshine were all in the top ten in the same year. 2020 was third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest on record for the UK. 

The last 30-year period (1991-2020) has been 0.9°C warmer than the preceding 30 years (1961-1990). The warming trend is evident across all months and all countries in the UK. 

The greatest warming compared to 1961-1990 has been across the east Midlands and East Anglia where average annual temperatures have increased by more than 1°C, with the least warming around western coastal fringes and parts of Northern Ireland and Scotland. 

As well as increased temperatures, the UK has been on average 6% wetter over the last 30 years (1991-2020) than the preceding 30 years (1961-1990). Six of the ten wettest years for the UK in a series from 1862 have occurred since 1998. 

  • Even if we stop all emissions today, we cannot avoid some level of warming. The amount of warming we will see, beyond what we have already caused, depends on the changes we make.  
  • In 2015, almost every country in the world signed a document promising to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. The aim was to limit the average global temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures. If possible, countries pledged to aim for a 1.5°C limit.  
  • Since then, the IPCC has published a report explaining the different impacts between a 1.5 or 2°C temperature rise. It showed that there are many benefits for people all over the world in limiting temperatures to 1.5°C. Large and rapid reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions are needed to meet this goal, however. 
This chart above represents four possible futures for our climate. The dark blue line represents what could happen if we commit to cutting emissions, and the red line represents what could happen if we don’t make any changes. 

A Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) is a greenhouse gas concentration (not emissions) trajectory. The four pathways on the chart above, describe different climate futures (having been selected for climate modelling and research). They are all considered possible depending on the amount of GHG emitted in the years to come. The four RCPs, namely RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6, and RCP8.5, are labelled after a possible range of radiative forcing values in the year 2100 (2.6, 4.5, 6.0, and 8.5 W/m2, respectively). UKCP18 uses four RCP levels as scenarios: 

  • RCP2.6 – Compatible with aims to limit global warming since pre-industrial levels to below 2˚C  
  • RCP4.5 
  • RCP6.0 
  • RCP8.5 – Reasonable worst-case scenario 

The RCPs are consistent with a wide range of possible changes in future anthropogenic (i.e., human) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and aim to represent their atmospheric concentrations. RCP 2.6 assumes that global annual GHG emissions peak between 2010–2020, with emissions declining substantially thereafter. Emissions in RCP 4.5 peak around 2040, then decline. In RCP 6, emissions peak around 2080, then decline. In RCP 8.5, emissions continue to rise throughout the 21st century. 

If we want to avoid significant increases in the average surface temperature, we must cut greenhouse gas emissions and switch to renewable energy sources. We must also use land more sustainably and may need to use techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the air.  

If we continue to burn fossil fuels and cut down forests at the same rate, the planet could warm by more than 4°C by 2100. This warming could fundamentally change life on earth, with potentially drastic consequences. 

Reduce global GHG emissions and how we use land 

The most crucial step to limit global Climate Change is to make big and rapid reductions in global GHG emissions, and switch to renewable energy sources. One way to achieve this would be for ALL countries around the world to work together to mitigate and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to an agreed level and timescale. We must also use land more sustainably and may need to use techniques to remove carbon dioxide COfrom the air, within the context of minimising damage and harm to humankind, ecosystems and the environment.  

What’s happening in the UK? 

There are many ways this can be done and governments, businesses, organisations and individuals around the world can all contribute. In June 2019, the UK became the world’s first major economy to pass a law committing the country to a target of ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050. 

And if we don’t change? 

If we continue to burn fossil fuels and cut down forests at the same rate, the planet could warm by more than 4°C by 2100. This warming could fundamentally change life on earth, with potentially drastic consequences. 

The main climate impact projections for the UK are:  

  • Greater frequency of hotter, drier summers, but when it does rain, there could be more intensive and torrential downpours 
  • Greater frequency of milder, wetter winters 
  • Further rises in sea level around coastline 
  • There is a caveat…although these are trends, variations are still expected in the weather from year to year. Cold winters and wet summers just become less likely, although we will still have to be prepared for them 

South West England Climate Impact Projections background information 

The potential climate impact projections for South West England are based on the normal distribution or bell curve calculations using 10th 50th and 90th percentiles.  

Please note that percentiles do not show equal units of measurement, but rather they show where the weather variable anomaly, using different time slices, (for example, 2020 – 2039), lies in comparison to the 1981-2000 average. So, at the 10% percentile, 10% of the weather variable anomaly will be at this value or at a lower value. At 50% this is the mean, and at the 90% percentile, 90% of the weather variable anomaly will be at this value or lower or only 10% of the weather variable anomaly will be higher. For example, if the temperature in question had a mean of 10 degrees Celsius for 1981-2000, then if for 2020-2039 it indicated a 50th percentile anomaly of 2 degrees Celsius, this would indicate a potential new mean of 12 degrees Celsius for 2020-2039. 

As we expect climate change in the UK to increase temperatures, the following graph may give an indication of the potential changes in frequency of low and high temperatures, as we see an expected increase in mean temperatures: 

Image source: IPCC 2007 

As we expect climate change in the UK to increase temperatures, it is expected to have a knock-on effect on precipitation intensities too. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, and globally water vapour increases by 7% for every 1 degree Celsius of warming. How this will translate into changes in global precipitation is less clear cut, but the total volume of precipitation is likely to increase by 1-2% per degree of warming. The following graph may give an indication of the potential changes in frequency of precipitation rates, as we see an expected increase in mean temperatures: 

Image source: IPCC 2007 

We now need to consider what potential climate impact projections we may see in SW England up to 2059 by using the UKCP18 climate analysis tool. UKCP18 provides climate impact projections for SW England. Please see https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/approach/collaboration/ukcp/land-projection-maps 

For SW England, other weather variables, other seasonal timescales over the year, and other future projection time slices are available on the website, for example, annual mean temperature 2060-2089.  

For information on South West England climate averages visit: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/climate/uk-climate 

For SW England – let us look at some of these weather variables for particular time slices:  

  1. Summer – daily mean maximum temperatures in 0C – for time slices 2020-2039 and 2040-2059 
  1. Summer – daily mean temperatures in 0C – for time slices 2020-2039 and 2040-2059 
  1. Winter – daily mean minimum temperatures in 0C – for time slices 2020-2039 and 2040-2059 
  1. Winter – daily mean temperatures in 0C – for time slices 2020-2039 and 2040-2059 
  1. Summer – mean precipitation in mm – for time slices 2020-2039 and 2040-2059 
  1. Winter – mean precipitation in mm – for time slices 2020-2039 and 2040-2059 
  1. Annual – mean precipitation in mm – for time slices 2020-2039 and 2040-2059  
  1. Sea level rise – in metres (m) – up until 2059 – for 6 coastal locations 

RCP8.5 – Reasonable worst-case scenario 

RCP2.6 – Compatible with aims to limit global warming since pre-industrial levels to below 2˚C  

  1. South West England  

Summer (June, July, August) mean maximum daily temperature in degrees Celsius for 2020-2039 

South West England  

Summer (June, July, August) mean maximum daily temperature in degrees Celsius for 2040-2059 

  1. South West England 

Summer (June, July, August) minimum daily temperature in degrees Celsius for 2020-2039 

South West England 

Summer (June, July, August) minimum daily temperature in degrees Celsius for 2040-2059 

3. Winter (December, January, February) – daily mean minimum temperatures in degrees Celsius – for 2020-2039  

Winter (December, January, February) – daily mean minimum temperatures in degrees Celsius – for 2040-2059  

  1. South West England 

Winter (December, January, February) – daily mean temperatures in degrees Celsius – for 2020-2039 

South West England 

Winter (December, January, February) – daily mean temperatures in degrees Celsius – for 2040-2059 

  1. South West England 

Summer (June, July, August) – mean precipitation in mm – for 2020-2039  

South West England 

Summer (June, July, August) – mean precipitation in mm – for 2040-2059  

6. South West England 
Winter (December, January, February) – mean precipitation in mm – for 2020-2039 

South West England 
Winter (December, January, February) – mean precipitation in mm – for 2040-2059 

  1. South West England 

Annual – mean precipitation in mm – for 2020-2039  

South West England 

Annual – mean precipitation in mm – for 2040-2059  

  1. South West England – sea level rise 

Sea level rise is expensive, both in terms of the damage it will cause, and the cost of defending against it. Reducing uncertainty in projected changes in sea level allows for the most appropriate and cost-effective adaptation measures to be taken. There are two aspects of sea level of interest: the mean sea level (the sea level averaged over the tidal cycle, and extreme sea level (typically the maximum sea level or surge recorded during storms). Under global Climate Change there could be changes in both. 

Below is a sea level projection for Newlyn, Cornwall – a tide gauge location – to illustrate the sea level variability observed at a tide gauge location. This time series is plotted relative to a baseline period of 1981-2000. Coloured lines indicate the central estimates according to the figure legend. Shaded regions represent the projection range for the corresponding RCP scenario. The total range of projected sea level rise for 2100, across all RCP scenarios, is approximately 0.4 – 1.2m for Newlyn.  

Text Box

South West England coastal locations for sea-level rise projections to 2059 

Exeter/Exmouth, Devon south coast for RCP 2.6 through to 2059 

Exeter/Exmouth, Devon south coast for RCP 8.5 through to 2059 

Plymouth, south coast for RCP 2.6 through to 2059 

Plymouth, south coast for RCP 8.5 through to 2059 

Falmouth Bay, Cornwall south coast for RCP 2.6 through to 2059 

Falmouth Bay, Cornwall south coast for RCP 8.5 through to 2059 

Isles of Scilly for RCP 2.6 through to 2059 

Isles of Scilly for RCP 8.5 through to 2059  

Newquay, Cornwall north coast for RCP 2.6 through to 2059 

Newquay, Cornwall north coast for RCP 8.5 through to 2059 

Ilfracombe, Devon north coast for RCP 2.6 through to 2059 

Ilfracombe, Devon north coast for RCP 8.5 through to 2059 

  1. Higher temperatures – could increase risk of heatwaves, other severe weather, droughts, certain health risks, wildfires, but could decrease risk of prolonged low temperatures, heavy snow and/or ice. 
  1. Higher rainfall – could increase risk in flooding (river, surface water and groundwater), other severe weather, land movements, structural failures, certain health risks.  
  1. Sea level rise – could increase risk of coastal/tidal flooding and coastal erosion (including land movements) and hence increased impacts on coastal infrastructure including transport routes.  
Risk Location/s in Cornwall, Devon and Isles of Scilly (IoS) Current Risk rating Current Lead Assessor 
Major Tidal and Coastal Flooding All Very High Environment Agency 
Major Fluvial Flooding  All Very High Environment Agency 
Prolonged Low Temperatures, Heavy Snow and/or Ice All High Torbay Council 
Localised flooding (sudden flash, fluvial or surface water flooding) All High Environment Agency 
Severe Storms and Gales All Medium Torbay Council 
Heat Wave All Medium Public Health England 
Drought All Medium Environment Agency 
Forest, wood or moorland fire All Medium Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service 
Heavy Snow or Ice on vulnerable areas of the highways network All Low Torbay Council 
Building Collapse All Low Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service 
Bridge Closure or Collapse All Low Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service 
Major reservoir dam failure caused by loss of structural integrity or controlled release or overtopping All Medium Environment Agency 
Land Movement (Tremors and Landslides) All Medium Devon County Council 
Catastrophic failure of mine water treatment works and/or sludge storage dam  Wheal Jane complex, Nr Baldhu, Cornwall Medium Cornwall Council 
Epidemic/ Pandemic Influenza All Very High or High Public Health England 
Industrial Accidents and Environmental Pollution, Major Air Quality Incident All High Environment Agency