Worrying NASA satellite footage shows how dry and brown UK is now compared to a year ago
Worrying NASA satellite images have shown the toll this week’s record-shattering heatwave has taken on the UK.
In comparison to a mainly green landscape from a year ago, the images now show the country looking dried out and brown.
This week, temperatures reached 40C (104F) for the first time on record in the UK.
London Heathrow provisionally recorded 40.2C (107F) at 12.50pm on Tuesday, the Met Office said.
Parts of England and Wales were placed under a red warning for extreme heat and Brits were warned the weather posed a danger to life, pressure on the NHS and disruption across transport networks.
And now images from the American space agency NASA – which were shared online by Dan Holley, a BBC weather presenter and meteorologist – have laid bare the damage caused by the unprecedented heat, reports the Daily Mail.
The pictures reveal how Britain’s once largely green landscape has now become much dried, being scarred by this week’s high temperatures.
The hottest day in history in Britain saw major wildfires spring up across the land, with homes, buildings, fields and wildlife engulfed in infernos accelerated by the intense heat.
As the country struggled with its highest temperatures ever recorded, multiple homes were destroyed by flames after a huge blaze spread to an east London village.
London Fire Brigade declared a major incident with blazes in at least 10 locations; a fire on a farm in Nottingham was also declared a major incident and there were also blazes in Leeds, Norfolk and other parts of the country.
The Met Office’s Mike Kendon said: “Temperatures on 18 July were exceptional but they moved 2 to 4°C higher on 19 July, making this date unprecedented in the context of long term climate records.
“What’s particularly notable is how much more widespread the heat was from this event than the previous two occurrences of temperatures in excess of 38°C in the UK.
“Temperature records tend to get broken by modest amounts and by just a few stations, but the recent heat broke the national record by 1.6°C and across an extensive area of the country from Kent to North Yorkshire and from Suffolk to Warwickshire.
“Even when you factor in the temperatures seen in summer 1976, they didn’t reach anywhere near the levels seen this week, although that was a much more prolonged spell of hot and dry weather.”
The abnormal weather is fuelled by climate change, which is making every heatwave more intense, frequent and likely, scientists say.
Global warming caused by man-made greenhouse gases will mean extreme heatwaves could become 30% more frequent by 2050, researchers said.
Met Office Chief Scientist Professor Stephen Belcher said: “In a climate unaffected by human influence, climate modelling shows that it is virtually impossible for temperatures in the UK to reach 40°C.
“Under a very high emissions scenario we could see temperatures exceeding 40 degrees as frequently as every three years by the end of the century in the UK.
“Reducing carbon emissions will help to reduce the frequency, but we will still continue to see some occurrences of temperatures exceeding 40°C and the UK will need to adapt to these extreme events.”