A long sunny weekend at Glastonbury may sound like ideal conditions for grooving along to Paul McCartney and Billie Eilish in 2022, but in just three decades from now, a hot June weekend could easily result in an extreme weather warning, the Met Office has said.
In a mock weather forecast for Glastonbury 2050 the Met Office looks at a heatwave scenario bringing day time temperatures of up to 38C on Worthy Farm where campers would also have to endure sweltering night time temperatures which would only drop to a minimum of 26C.
This contrasts with the existing, real highest temperature on record for Glastonbury reaching 31.2C in 2017.
In the video, Met Office forecaster Aiden McGivern begins by saying: “Hello, it’s Wednesday 22 June 2050, and if you’re heading to Glastonbury this weekend the Met Office have issued an extreme heat warning with the ongoing heatwave expected to keep going until Sunday evening.”
In the scenario the forecasters look at what could occur if an area of high pressure over Scandinavia along with low pressure over the Atlantic brought hot air up from south-western Europe.
“With long spells of hot sunshine, temperatures will quickly rise,” Mr McGivern says.
If such a heatwave did occur, the Met Office warned that it would result in fit healthy people being at risk of heat exhaustion. Transport and power distribution would also likely be affected.
“Thankfully, this isn’t a real forecast,” Mr McGivern says at the end. “But it is one possible scenario for how a summer heatwave could affect the UK in almost 30 years time.”
He added: “’Possible’, and ‘could’, are both words which express uncertainty, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security.
“Much of the uncertainty is because the climate, by 2050, depends partly on how much we reduce global greenhouse emissions in the years to come.
He warned that current emissions trends mean we are not on track to reduce emissions significantly enough to avoid temperature rises which the UN has described as being “catastrophic”.
The climate crisis is exacerbating heatwaves around the world, making them longer lasting and reaching higher temperatures, resulting in greater impacts – from increased heat-related deaths among humans, to exacerbating wildfires, storms, floods and worsening outlooks for agriculture and biodiversity.
The Glastonbury 2050 forecast was based on a high emissions scenario – in which “business as usual” continues to see increases in fossil fuel emissions.
This would see hotter, drier summers, and milder, wetter winters, the Met Office has said.
Explaining why the Met Office occasionally makes these future scenario-based videos, they said in a blog post: “One of the greatest challenges with communicating the risks of climate change is how to show, in a relatable way, how changes in our atmosphere could impact the weather we experience on the Earth’s surface.
“By showing what the weather could look like by 2050 at certain times of year, it helps people relate to how different their experiences might be under a changing climate.