United Kingdom United Kingdom United Kingdom United Kingdom

Previously in ClimateChangePost


As a result of the extreme hot summer of 2003, 44,000 people died in Western Europe. How rare was this extreme event, and what is the effect of climate change?

The flooding events over the last years do not seem to be related to changes in the magnitude of daily rainfall. It is the frequency of multi-day precipitation accumulations that has changed.

Well-known examples of UK world heritage sites that are threatened by climate change are the Neolithic monuments of the Orkney Islands in Scotland and at Stonehenge and Avebury in southern England.

Is England’s winter flooding of 2013/2014 influenced by anthropogenic climate change? British Prime Minister David Cameron: ‘I very much suspect that it is’.

Changes in snowmelt affect the size and timing of flood peaks in Britain. Snow is a major component of flow for catchments particularly in Scotland.

Experiences in Copenhagen, New York, London, Rotterdam and Amsterdam shared at the Adaptation Futures Conference in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, May 2016

Eighty-five sites on the London Underground are at high and rising risk of flooding, according to a report that says it is “only a matter of time” before serious flooding strikes.

Blanket peat erosion not only results from human action, climate also affects the stability of the peat and associated erosion.

Climate change may affect urban flooding in several ways: through impacts from rivers and coastal sources, and through surcharged drainage systems. All of these are challenges in the UK.

Flood insurance differs widely in scope and form across Europe. There seems to be little appetite for harmonization of flood insurance arrangements across the EU

Are the floods like those in 2007 just bad luck or is heavy rainfall in summer, especially in July, something we have reasons to expect

How much sea level rise is to be expected at the upper limit of current IPCC scenarios? This question has been dealt with for northern Europe

Due to climate change, a downward trend in the total number of damaging hailstorms during the 21st century was projected

Potential influences on the United Kingdom’s floods of winter 2013/14 have been assessed. Total winter rainfall in the Thames catchment in this winter was the highest on record.

The effects of warm temperature on mortality from cardiorespiratory causes may not be the same from one part of the country to another. This was concluded from a study where

In the UK 90% of electricity generation comes from thermoelectric power stations. Cooling of thermoelectric plants is often achieved by water abstractions from the natural environment.

Floods in England in the past have impacted upon large numbers of historic structures. Increasing concern has been voiced on risks posed by flood events to historic buildings

Absolute number of excess winter deaths may increase in the coming decades due to an increase in future winter temperature volatility and because of a growing and ageing population

It is estimated that some 70% of the total water used in production and consumption in the UK is imported from other countries in the form of water embodied in goods.

Possible temperature-related climate change impacts on the main line railway network of Great Britain have been assessed. Regional climate model projections for the future period 2030–2059

Severe hurricane-force (> 32.6 m/s) storms can cause floods in west-European coastal regions and inflict large-scale damage on infrastructure and agriculture.

Options have been investigated for the future of protecting London from flooding from the sea. Economic analyses have shown that improving the existing flood defences

Overall, for the second half of this century, the majority of regional climate models project an increase in runoff during winter and a decrease over summer ...

The typical pattern of UK wind speeds, which tend to be high in winter and lower in summer, could be emphasised further under the influence of climate change ...

Potential impacts of climate change on the UK’s electricity network have been assessed ...

For London an urban heat island effect was calculated of 2.0 ± 0.3°C for minimum temperature in summer and of 1.1 ± 0.3°C for minimum temperature in winter ...

Substantial reductions in potential groundwater recharge are projected for the 21st century in southern Europe and increases in northern Europe ...

Wind-storm losses on a European-wide property insurance portfolio have been quantified under current and future climatic conditions ...


I recommend

National plans/strategies for the United Kingdom

  • The UK’s Sixth National Communication under the United Nations Framework Convention On Climate Change (UNFCCC) (2014). Download.
  • West and Gawith (2005). Measuring Progress.  Preparing for climate change through the UK Climate Impacts Programme. Download.

Reports/papers that focus on important UK topics

  • Climate Change: observations, projections and impacts. Downloads.
  • Coastal flood risk: Tsimplis et al. (2005). Towards a vulnerability assessment of the UK and northern European coasts: the role of regional climate variability. Download.
  • Cultural-historical heritage: Cassar (2005). Climate change and the historic environment. Download.
  • Flood risk in the Thames Estuary: Lavery and Donovan (2005). Flood risk management in the Thames Estuary looking ahead 100 years. Download.
  • Flood risk in the Thames Estuary: Eldridge and Horn (2009). A case study of the Thames Gateway: Flood risk, planning policy and insurance loss potential. Download.
  • Insurance and flood risk (coastal, river, and flash floods): Crichton (2005). Flood risk & insurance in England & Wales: are there lessons to be learned from Scotland? Download.
  • River flood risk: Pitt Review Team (2008). Learning lessons from the 2007 floods. Download.
  • Storms: Alexander et al. (2005). Recent observed changes in severe storms over the United Kingdom and Iceland. Download.

Reports/papers that present a sound overview for Europe

  • Quante, M. and F. Colijn (eds), 2016. North Sea Region climate change assessment NOSCCA. Regional Climate Studies, Springer Nature, 555 pp. Download.
  • Eisenreich (2005). Climate change and the European water dimension. A report to the European water directors.
  • European Environment Agency (2005). Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in Europe. Download.
  • European Environment Agency, JRC and WHO (2008). Impact of Europe’s changing climate – 2008 indicator-based assessment. Download.

Reports/papers that focus on specific topic, relevant for all of Europe

  • Agriculture: Rounsevell et al. (2005). Future scenarios of European agricultural land use II. Projecting changes in cropland and grassland. Download.
  • Agriculture: Fischer et al. (2005). Socio-economic and climate change impacts on agriculture: an integrated assessment, 1990–2080. Download.
  • Biodiversity: Thuiller et al. (2005). Climate change threats to plant diversity in Europe. Download.
  • Coastal erosion: Salman et al. (2004). Living with coastal erosion in Europe: sediment and space for sustainability. Download.
  • Droughts: Blenkinsop and Fowler (2007). Changes in European drought characteristics projected by the PRUDENCE regional climate models. Download.
  • Droughts: European Environment Agency (2009). Water resources across Europe – confronting water scarcity and drought. Download.
  • Forestry: Seppälä et al. (2009). Adaptation of forests and people to climate change. A global assessment report. Download.
  • Health: Kosatsky (2005). The 2003 European heat waves. Download.
  • Health: WHO (2008). Protecting health in Europe from climate change. Download.
  • Insurance and Business: Mills et al. (2005). Availability and affordability of insurance under climate change. A growing challenge for the U.S. Download.
  • Security and Crisis management: German Advisory Council on Global Change (2007). World in transition: Climate change as a security risk. Summary for policy-makers. Download.
  • Storms: Gardiner et al. (2010). Destructive storms in European forests: Past and forthcoming impacts. Download.
  • Storms: Pinto et al. (2007). Changing European storm loss potentials under modified climate conditions according to ensemble simulations of the ECHAM5/MPI-OM1 GCM. Download.
  • Tourism: Deutsche Bank Research (2008). Climate change and tourism: Where will the journey lead? Download.

Additional information

National adaptation strategies

Database on disasters worldwide

Weblogs in English

EU funded Research Projects



Climate change scenarios

Climate change impacts and vulnerabilities

Coastal areas

Cultural-historical heritage

Droughts and water scarcity


Flash Floods



Fresh water resources


Insurance and Business

Land use

Mitigation / adaptation options and costs

Security and Crisis management

Transport, Infrastructure and Building

Urban areas

Forest fires United Kingdom


Moorland fires

Kersey et al. (1) reported on the risk of moorland fires in the East Midlands. An increased risk of moorland fires arising from climate change is a major issue for the Peak District. Such fires could lead to the replacement of heather moorland by grass, with serious implications for soil erosion and grouse-shooting. There have been 30 to 40 fires on the National Trust estate in the High Peak in the past decade – about a dozen of which have been classified as ‘major’ fires. Approximately one third of fires are caused by visitors’ cigarettes, whilst another third are heather management fires that have gone out of control (1).

Fires have a direct impact upon plant communities. An even greater problem is when fires get down into the peat causing large areas of erosion which are very difficult to re-vegetate, and which add to water colouration and associated treatment problems (1).

The Peak District National Park Authority has done much work on educating visitors about the risks and hazards of fire. Work is also proceeding on how to respond more effectively to fires when they do occur. Schemes are also being undertaken in the Peak on how to restore vegetation after fires. The problem of re-vegetation was described by the National Trust, however, as ‘quite immense’ (1).

The impact of climate change on the number of wildfires in the Peak District uplands has been investigated (3). Future climate projections suggest an overall increase in occurrence of summer wildfires in the Peak District uplands. The likelihood of spring wildfires is not reduced by wetter winter conditions. Temperature rise has a non-linear impact, with the risk of wildfire occurrence rising disproportionately with temperature. Recreation use is a major source of ignition. Little change in wildfire incidence is projected in the near future, but as climate change intensifies, the danger of summer wildfires is projected to increase from 2070 (3).

Forest fires

In the UK, between now and 2100, the conditions will change towards a higher risk of forest fires (2).

Adaptation strategies

Adaptation options to forest fire risk should aim to decrease the vulnerability, where a change in tree species from conifers to broadleaves had most effect (2).

Moorlands may have to be managed to reduce the chance of summer wildfires becoming catastrophic, with consequent damage to ecosystem services such as water supplies and peat carbon storage. Management measures may include controlled burning, grazing or mowing to remove fuel (3).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for the United Kingdom.

  1. Kersey et al. (2000)
  2. Schelhaas et al. (2010)
  3. Albertson et al. (2010)