When I was younger (many years ago) the weather in the UK just seemed different, my memories of my trips to school were of seasons which were quite distinct. Warm, sometimes hot, summers a temperate autumn, wet and often cold winters, before long periods of low intensity rain during the spring and leading back into the Summer. Apart from the Summer of 1976 I do not recall there being much discussion about drought or drinking water shortages, and flooding was not something that regularly made the news.
As I write this 40 years later, it is clear to me that in the UK at least, things have changed. I do not need a climate scientist to tell me our weather patterns have altered, I can see it for myself. In the UK now the seasons seem less distinct. Summer can still be warm, just like the last one, which was the hottest since 1976, but equally they can be very wet. In fact, we often now see some of our heaviest periods of rainfall in the summer months. It is not only the frequency of rainfall events that have changed, its also the duration and magnitude, now the rainfall events are much more likely to be short but of a high intensity.
The statistics seem to support my recollections. A search of the internet revealed that the UK has suffered approximately 25 ‘exceptional’ flooding events since 1300’s. Out of these 25 events, 12 have occurred since the year 2000, and 4 of those occurred during the summer months. In fact, summers in the UK have been on average 20% wetter in the last decade, than the average between 1961 – 1990.
Looking forward it seems we have more to come, the UK climate projections assessment published in 2018 suggests that the UK Climate will continue to warm. By 2070 we can expect Summer temperatures to be between 1° and 5°C higher than present levels (on average) and winter rainfall could, at the extremes of projections, increase by up to 35%. Flooding is forecast to become more prevalent and premature deaths due to overheating are expected to rise.