Climate change is here and our city will never be the same again. Researchers from the University of Portsmouth are taking action to help us understand what’s happening and adapt.
Dr Nick Pepin, a weather scientist at the University, operates a bespoke weather station. He has observed big changes in our city over the past 25 years. Last summer the hottest temperature on record — a sizzling 31.9°C / 89.4°F — was measured in Pompey on 9th August.
This warming trend is highly likely to continue. Future summer heatwaves will be more intense — and more frequent. Data suggest we’ll be living a ‘new normal’ climate within the next thirty years.
Before you start investing in beachwear, consider the downside: Dr Mark Hardiman from the University says: ‘Southeast England, including Portsmouth, will become much more Mediterranean in complexion, leading to drier landscapes and increased risk of hazards such as wildfire’.
Dr Pepin says ‘tropical nights’ (when the temperature stays above 20°C all night) will become much more common. So if you can’t sleep during those dog days of summer, there may be a scientific reason! He has also observed that winters are getting warmer. For example, in winter 2019/20 we did not have a single air frost in the city.
Both researchers are involved in vital projects to prepare for tomorrow’s climate. Dr Pepin is a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Dr Hardiman is a co-investigator on a National Environment Research Council funded team, helping to develop a wildfire danger rating system for the UK. And they are not the only ones striving to tackle the climate challenge.
Here’s how you can help prepare Portsmouth for the new climateThe Portsmouth Climate Action Board, which drives the city’s response to the climate emergency, recently launched Climate Action Groups. These volunteer-led groups will meet monthly and help make sustainable change happen in Portsmouth. They’ll feed into the Board’s Climate Action Strategy and the city-wide ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030.
The University is a member of the Board; Professor Steve Fletcher is its Chair. He says, ‘As a compact and crowded city at sea level, Portsmouth is at the frontline of climate change in the UK. Meaningful change is only possible with the support and commitment of individuals and organisations.’
Want to make 2021 the year you act to make your city greener, healthier and safer? If you’re interested in joining a Climate Action Group, or simply want to learn more about climate change and Portsmouth’s response, start at www.portsmouthclimateaction.org.uk.