Warning UK could see first 40C day in next decade amid more frequent heatwaves

Sunbathers make the most of the mini heatwave in New Brighton, Wirral, on what could be the hottest day of the year. Picture date: Saturday July 17, 2021.
Sunbathers make the most of the recent heatwave in New Brighton, Wirral. (PA)

Scientists have warned that the UK could see its first 40C day within 10 years as intense heatwaves become more frequent.

Modelling from researchers at the University of Reading showed that the UK will hit the benchmark temperature increasingly often if carbon emissions continue and global warming are not curbed.

In a worst-case scenario, scientists said 40C temperatures would be reached every three years by the end of the century.

The research said: “With the intensity and frequency of UK heatwaves projected to increase, and summer temperatures predicted to be 5C hotter by 2070, urgent action is needed to prepare for, and adapt to, the changes now and to come.”

Read: Six die as Met Office issues first ever extreme heat warning

It comes after last week’s heatwave peaked at 32.2C at Heathrow on Tuesday while Northern Ireland recorded its highest ever temperature of 31.4C in Armagh on Thursday.

A young boy is seen playing in the fountain at Trafalgar Square ahead of a mini heatwave set to hit UK over the weekend followed by a fierce storm. The temperature will go above 30 degrees celsius on Sunday bringing on the hottest day of the year so far. (Photo by Hesther Ng / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A young boy playing in the fountain at Trafalgar Square. (PA)

But Chloe Brimicombe, a heatwave hazards researcher at the University of Reading, told The Sunday Times: “Southern England could see its first 40-degree day within the next 10 years.”

“Most of our rail network would not be able to run in those sorts of temperatures,” she added.

“We would see increased pressure on water resources, productivity would be reduced, and it could affect our livestock and our crops.”

Watch: Thunderstorm and extreme heat warnings issued amid sweltering heat

The UK’s highest-ever recorded temperature was 38.7C, in Cambridge in July 2019.

And the five hottest days recorded in the UK have all taken place since 1990.

Last week, the Met Office announced it had issued its first-ever extreme heat warning.

Six people drowned in lakes and rivers in England over the hottest weekend of the year.

Watch: Northern Ireland records new 'highest temperature' of 31.3C