Climate change is nothing new in geological timescales. But in human timescales we have had a long period with a very stable climate. The planet is now warming and there are now few scientists who doubt that these changes are the result of human activity. Scientists are predicting a continued rise in global temperatures leading to:
The Lake District is already experiencing warmer wetter winters and hotter drier summers. The wet summers of 2007 and 2008 illustrate that the weather we experience does not always match the long term climate trends. Over the years ahead we expect more significant changes. A study by Natural England identifies a range of impacts including:
The Lake District National Park Authority is aiming to become a leader in managing climate change. We are working to reduce our own impact on the climate by cutting our carbon emissions. We will be working with others through action and education in partnership with other organisations - you can read more on our Climate change page.
In 2008 The Lake District National Park hosted the Low Carbon Lake District Conference. We launched a report assessing the impact of climate change on the Lake District. The report details the physical effects and the impacts on society and the economy - you can read the report from a link on the Climate change page.
We are working with landowners to encourage best practice in carbon management - find our more in Carbon and Land Management.
In June 2009 the UK government published United Kingdom Climate Projections – the most comprehensive report of its kind ever produced. It shows that the UK faces warmer wetter winters and hotter drier summers with more drought, more intense heat waves, flooding and sea level rise.
The report is freely available and provides information about the likely impacts of climate change across the UK. It will help businesses and public bodies to plan investment and services based on the best information available. Find out more at UK Climate Impacts Programme (opens in new window).
In February 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) issued its starkest warning yet. It concluded that average temperatures across the globe are likely to rise by four degrees centigrade before the end of the century. The latest scientific evidence indicates climate change will be more severe than previously thought and its affects will be felt across the globe. The report drew on expertise from 600 authors, 620 expert reviewers and representatives from 113 countries. There is a high degree of confidence that climate change is a direct result of human action through emission of greenhouse gases.
As the earth warms the water cycle intensifies increasing the risk of both drought and floods. Worldwide the area of land in extreme drought is predicted to rise from 1 per cent to 30 per cent by the end of the century. Rising temperatures increase the likelihood of dramatic changes in the climate system. For example the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic drift which have a significant warming effect on Europe’s climate may be weakened. Sea levels which are already rising could be increased considerably if the West Antarctic ice sheet collapses.
Some changes will amplify climate change. For example thawing of permafrost and drying out of wetlands releases methane and carbon dioxide which are powerful greenhouse gases.
The Stern report on the economics of climate change (2007) predicts that the poorest people in developing nations will be hit first and hardest but all areas of the world will suffer. The Lake District is already feeling the effects but the LDNP believes we can play a part in reducing the effects. Read more in Stern Review (opens in new window)
Play the My 2050 world interactive game (opens in new window, needs Flash 9) to show the world how to do it!