New climate change website pulls evidence together

DEFRA has funded the development of a website that allows companies and individuals to investigate the impact of climate change on their lives and livelihoods.

The website draws on detailed statistics from the Meteorological Office and research from UK universities and the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change to consider how climate change will impact us throughout the 21st Century.

The £2m programme consists of five reports, of which one has as yet been published, and an interactive website, known as UKCIP08. It is expected to be launched fully late in 2008.

The first report from UKCIP08, The climate of the United Kingdom and recent trends, was published on Friday, 7 December. It states:

Central England Temperature has risen by about a degree Celsius since the 1970s, with 2006 being the warmest yet. It is likely that there has been a significant influence from human activity on the recent warming.

Sea surface temperatures around the UK coast have risen over the past three decades, by about 0.7C.

Severe windstorms around the UK have become more frequent in the past few decades, but no higher than levels seen at the beginning of the last century.

DEFRA secretary of state Hilary Benn welcomed the launch saying: “This report shows that climate change is happening in the UK – and it’s happening now. All of us – governments, businesses and individuals – need to be able to plan for the future.

“This groundbreaking initiative, when completed in late 2008, will be designed to help people investigate the possible future climate at the click of a mouse.

“It will put us face to face with what the climate might look like in our own back yard and challenge us to think about how to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.”

The UKCIP08 web interface will provide information in three ways: key headline messages and commonly used statistics published materials such as reports, graphs and maps, customisable climate projections (through a web interface being designed by the British Atmospheric Data Centre) and a weather generator tool, the latter under development by the University of Newcastle and University of East Anglia.

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