Science & Tech

Expert explains why the 1976 heatwave should not be compared to 2022

Expert explains why the 1976 heatwave should not be compared to 2022
Fire rages in Dartford as searing heatwave hits UK
Adrian Stirrup

With temperatures in parts of the UK rising to their highest level on record in the heatwave, a meteorologist has explained why it can’t be compared to previous heatwaves.

The UK has been in the grips of a heatwave that has seen some parts of the country placed under the Met Office’s first ever Red warning for extreme heat, with many other areas under an Amber warning.

In 1976, temperatures topped 32 degrees celsius in at least one part of the UK for 15 days in a row, with the temperature peaking at a maximum of 35.9 degrees on 3 July.

But one London-based meteorologist, Scott Duncan, has explained why it’s not comparable to the previous national heatwave in the summer of 1976.

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In a tweet with a heat graph of each year, he explained: “We have not seen anything like it. We can't compare this looming heat emergency to summer 1976.

“A warmer world, thanks to human induced climate change, makes it almost effortless to break extreme heat thresholds. We continue to see this across the planet - not just in Europe.”

The two maps show how much more of the world is warmer than in 1976, and also how the areas experiencing temperature anomalies are bigger now.

Visualising the changes across the world over a relatively short time period was shocking to some, and proved why we shouldn’t compare two separate events when talking about the climate crisis.

One person said: “Still think climate change 'isn’t a thing'? These are the consequences. It’s only getting hotter.”

Another wrote: “Compare the global difference rather than remembering a hot summer in the UK for example.”

Someone else replied: “Why I will not have children. Exhibit A:”

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