This year’s “tumultuous weather” is set to become the new norm causing a range of impacts for nature if steps aren’t taken to tackle the climate and nature crises, the National Trust has warned.
A warm January followed by back-to-back tree-toppling storms in February, a dry spring, a summer of record breaking temperatures and a prolonged heatwave causing severe drought, ending with December’s cold snap, has given UK wildlife a bumpy and difficult year with many species and habitats struggling to cope.
A new record high UK temperature of 40.3 degrees Celsius was recorded at Coningsby, Lincolnshire, on July 19 during the heatwave, helping make this the joint hottest summer on record.
Much of the country was, and still is, gripped by drought after months of low rainfall has yet to replenish groundwater, with the hot, dry conditions over the summer drying up rivers, impacting wildlife and landscapes, damaging crops, affecting livestock and fuelling wildfires, destroying land and homes of nature.
A number of wildfires on National Trust land, particularly in the South West, devastated areas of Zennor Head in Cornwall, Bolberry Down in south Devon, Baggy Point in north Devon and Studland in Dorset.
These important coastal habitats were left scorched with the fire destroying the homes of the silver blue butterfly, rare sand lizards and smooth snakes at Studland, while at Baggy Point the recent rains have created large gullies, washing soil and ash down the slopes, impacting the land’s ability to regenerate.
Keith Jones, Climate Change Adviser at the National Trust said: “There is no escaping that this year’s weather has been challenging for nature.
“Drought, high temperatures, back-to-back storms, unseasonal heat, the recent cold snap, and floods means nature, like us, is having to cope with a new litany of weather extremes.
“It is a stark illustration of the sort of difficulties many of our species will face if we don’t do more to mitigate rising temperatures and helping nature’s survival.
“Weather experts predict that the future will see more torrential downpours, along with very dry and hot summers, with 2022 setting a benchmark for what a ‘typical’ year for weather could be like. But the ‘new normal’ is also likely to result in even more extreme weather events than now.
“We’re going to experience more floods, droughts, heatwaves, extreme storms and wildfires – and they will go from bad to worse, breaking records with ever alarming frequency if we don’t limit our carbon emissions.”