UK heatwave raises alarm over ecosystem impact and wildlife catastrophe

The extended period of hot and sunny weather in the United Kingdom has prompted concerns from environmental experts, who warn of the potential negative impacts on the country’s ecosystem. Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, has called for a change in tone when discussing the current weather, highlighting the need for rain to maintain a healthy environment.

As climate change is predicted to make UK summers hotter and potentially drier, with increased intense downpours, the ability for rainwater to be absorbed by the land may be reduced. West Cumbria Rivers Trust (WCRT) and the National Trust have warned that even the wettest regions of England are experiencing rivers running nearly dry, causing disastrous conditions for local wildlife.

Ruth Mackay, WCRT’s fisheries project officer, said, “Already our nature is under stress. If a drought impacts a river, there is usually a chance to recover in the succeeding years, but when it happens year after year, it becomes catastrophic for the wildlife that depends on it.”

Last summer, parts of England faced a prolonged drought, leading to wildfires and a significant change in the landscape. Areas such as East Anglia, Devon, and Cornwall are still experiencing drought conditions, and the Environment Agency has advised water companies to prepare for potential future droughts.

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Tony Juniper’s warning comes after heavy rain and strong winds hit parts of the UK on Monday, interrupting the recent dry spell. While thunderstorm warnings are in place for western Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Met Office reports that the worst of the storms have passed and drier weather is expected to return.

Forecaster and meteorologist Simon Partridge explained, “We’ve got high pressure starting to rebuild over the course of the day and when you get high pressure, that’s what gives us lots of dry, settled weather, like what we’ve had over the last couple of weeks.”

As temperatures continue to rise across the UK, with London and Manchester predicted to reach highs of 28C, the Mayor of London has issued a high air pollution warning. Sadiq Khan has urged residents to reduce their contribution to pollution levels by walking, cycling, or using public transport, avoiding unnecessary car journeys, and refraining from burning wood or garden waste.

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Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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