UKCP18 Climate Projections: impacts on climate resilience of public services

Following our UK Climate Projections 2018 blog, below we consider an important aspect of the new UKCP18 projections: helping to achieve the climate resilience of public services.

This summer, the reality of climate change hit home. The hottest summer on record for England and joint hottest summer for the whole of the UK (comparable temperatures were seen in 2006, 2003 and 1976) led to health warnings from Public Health England and a heat wave that ended with storms and flooding resulting in substantial transport disruption. Earlier in the summer, flash flooding in Birmingham affected residents, businesses and transport routes.

Long-term resilience

Overheating was a challenge in many of our local buildings. Hospitals had the double challenge of both an increase in patients with heat-related conditions and existing long-term conditions exacerbated by the heat as well as the overheating of hospital buildings affecting patients, staff and visitors. In 2017, the Adaptation Sub-Committee to the Committee on Climate Change highlighted concerns to Government about overheating and that around 90% of UK hospital wards are thought to be of a type that is prone to overheating.

Increasingly, local authorities, the NHS and other local public service providers and emergency responders are considering the long-term resilience of their assets as well as more immediate business continuity and emergency plans. Understanding and raising awareness of climate change projections and their implications for local services is challenging. Particularly where there is a large degree of uncertainty and competition for resources, there is an inevitable focus on the immediate and urgent rather than the strategic and long-term.

Climate change risk assessments and adaptation plans have been conducted by many public service delivery bodies using UKCP09 projections and available climate change support tools such as the UKCIP Adaptation Wizard and the resources provided by ClimateJust.

Climate change risk assessments

We have been working with Health Facilities Scotland to assist NHS Boards across Scotland in conducting climate change risk assessments and producing adaptation plans for their assets. We’ve also reviewed the degree to which Wigan’s local services were helping to deliver climate resilience for their vulnerable communities. These assessments relied on the use of UKCP09 projections and a common challenge has related to the accessibility of the user interface.

The key expertise for climate change risk assessments is knowledge of the most up to date climate change projections, including their uncertainty and levels of probability. An understanding of the local context is also important including how assets and services could be affected by changing temperatures, rainfall and other climate variables. The UK’s climate projections are being updated to provide decision-makers with the most up-to-date information on the future of our climate.

UK Climate Projections 2018

UKCP18 will update the UKCP09 projections over UK land areas and sea-level rise, giving:

  • Greater regional detail
  • Further analysis of the risks we face – both nationally and globally
  • More information on potential extremes and the impacts of climate change.

Importantly, the UKCP18 user interface has been designed with the user community in mind. Informed by a non-Government user group, it takes account of consultation findings that have revealed a need for more user-friendly outputs.

Murray Dale, JBA’s Lead for Climate Change, has been a member of the user group throughout the development of the UKCP18 project. His scientific understanding and applied experience help maximise the relevance and user-friendliness of these projections for decision-makers across a range of services and agendas.

We look forward to continuing to work with public service delivery bodies using the most up to date understanding of climate projections via UKCP18 to support them in enhancing their climate resilience. The transition between the two may present some challenges in relation to the availability of new data so for current projects, we are proposing to largely use UKCP09. We’ll bring in UCKCP18 for any climate variables for which projections differ considerably. This is the approach that will be adopted for our current project for Kent County Council where we’re conducting a Climate Change Risk and Impact Assessment supported by the Interreg North Sea Region FRAMES (Flood Resilient Areas by Multi-layEred Safety) project.

Want to know more?

Email Rachel Brisley for more information on rainfall projections and UKCP18. Find out more about our work in this area on our climate resilience web page.

Leave a Reply