Dramatic satellite image shows parched UK amid extreme heat warning

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
Comparative images from last year and this year shows the scale of how little rain the UK has had. (NASA)
Comparative images from last year and this year shows the scale of how little rain the UK has had. (NASA)

Aerial pictures of a yellowing UK have laid bare the impact of recent scorching temperatures and low rainfall, as Britain enters another heatwave and prepares for a drought.

Satellite pictures from Copernicus, the EU's earth observation programme, show the east of England and Scotland turning brown.

Recent record-breaking temperatures have brought with them a lack of rainfall, with some parts of the UK seeing their lowest amount of rain since records began in 1836.

England had just 35% (23.1mm) of its average rainfall for July 2022, Wales 53% (52mm), Northern Ireland 51% (45.8mm). Scotland recorded 81% (83.6mm) of average rainfall for July.

The latest analysis from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH) has warned that low or exceptionally low river flows and groundwater levels are likely to continue for the next three months in southern England and Wales.

Read more: Firefighters ‘won’t be able to answer all calls’ as deadly heatwaves push services to ‘crisis point’

Drought is looming in parts of England over a lack of rainfall. (Copernicus)
Drought is looming in parts of England over a lack of rainfall. (Copernicus)

According to government rainfall logs, August marks the fourth month that parts of Britain have seen little to no rain, sparking drought fears and causing hosepipe bans to be implemented across parts of the country.

Scientists have warned the likelihood of droughts are higher due to climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities.

South East Water and Southern Water have already announced hosepipe bans – after the driest first half of the year since 1976 saw south east England clocking up 144 days with little or no rain so far in 2022.

Thames Water - which supplies water to 15 million people across the capital and the Thames Valley, has signalled it will be the next to curb water usage.

Copernicus satellite images of Cambridge and the surrounding areas from this year and last show notablly less greenery in 2022.

(Copernicus)
Satellite images from August 2021 show a far greener landscape. (Copernicus)
(Copernicus)
Images from this year tell a very different story. (Copernicus)

Stuart Colville, director of policy at Water UK, said that it is looking “increasingly inevitable” that the Environment Agency will declare a drought for England, adding this would be the “right decision given some of the pressure on the environment that we’re seeing at the moment”.

Parts of England and Wales face an “exceptional” risk of wildfires as an amber heat warming comes into place, authorities have warned.

An aeriel view of part of the UK from a plane shows brown fields caused by the continued heatwave.(SWNS)
An aeriel view of part of the UK from a plane shows brown fields caused by the continued heatwave on the approach to East Midlands Airport.(SWNS)
Dernford Reservoir Stapleford near cambridge where water levels are exceptionally low. (SWNS)
Dernford Reservoir Stapleford near cambridge where water levels are exceptionally low. (SWNS)

The Met Office has raised the Fire Severity Index to exceptional – the highest level – for much of southern England, and stretching as far west as Abergavenny in Wales, for this coming Sunday.

Met Office meteorologist Marco Petagna said that the temperatures would “widely” be in the 30s across the UK, peaking locally in the mid-30s on Saturday.

“I think the hottest day will probably be Saturday, where we could see 36C in one or two spots,” he said.

There is also a heat health alert in place from the UK Health Security Agency, with experts advising people to look out for those who are older or with existing health conditions, as well as young children.