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Climate change adaptation
Further information - Climate change adaptation
Risks and impacts in Hertfordshire
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Climate change projections for Hertfordshire forecast an increase in the number of extreme weather events such as prolonged periods of intense rainfall or snow. Our current built environment and infrastructure cannot cope with these events, resulting in overheating in many buildings and increased flooding episodes, particularly in urban areas. Even if we dramiatically reduce our emissions through mitigation, we still face the consequences of climate change over the course of this century.
An estimate of
2000 additional deaths occurred in England and Wales during the summer of 2003 as a result of unusually hot weather
which reached as high as 38.1°C. The elderly and infants suffered the most. These unusual weather events are anticipated to become more numerous over the next 30-40 years.
In 2006, the longest period of hot weather ever recorded in the UK impacted not only on the health and wellbeing of communities, but also caused wider disruption as a result of blackouts. This was caused by spikes in electrical demand, mainly for air-conditioning.
The hot summer of 2006 also triggered thunderstorms and torrential rain which caused localised flooding across England. Local people in the town of Royston, North Hertfordshire reported flash flooding that blocked roads and caused damage to properties.
By 2050, Hertfordshire could see a
17% increase in rainfall or snow in winter
, with a
19% decrease in rainfall during the summer
By 2050, the temperature on the
warmest day in the summer is expected to increase by 2°C
, but may increase by
up to 9°C at the extreme
The 2011 drought was one of the driest years on record and lead to some restrictions on water usage by water companies in Hertfordshire. Over the course of the century it is predicted that water availability from natural resources, such as aquifers, will become less reliable as rainfall becomes more variable. During periods when storage levels are low, an increase in artificial water storage capacity, treatment and transport will be necessary – processes that are energy intensive and likely to emit even more carbon dioxide.
In 2012, the average rainfall for Hertfordshire more than doubled compared to 2011
, this was the highest figure for rainfall since records began in 1973. This unusually high rainfall continued and increased into 2013 culminating in widespread flooding over the winter of 2014. The flooding led to significant demands on major services and caused major congestion as well as damage to properties and businesses.
Many adaptation solutions can provide multiple benefits. For example, green roofs can not only reduce the rate of surface water runoff helping to prevent flooding, but some may also provide habitats for insects and wildlife and can help to reduce the risk of overheating.
The Town and Country Planning Association state that evidence of ‘climate-proofing’ can enhance an organisation’s reputation with its stakeholders. Adaptation can also protect investments, reduce health risks and reduce insurance costs.