6 Places You Didn’t Know Were Affected By Extreme Weather Linked To Climate Change
Climate change often seems like a distant threat — something that happens in other countries or something that we can leave future generations to find a solution to.
But climate change has already arrived and, more so, it’s standing in our very own backyards. The places that we love dearly — from iconic landmarks to everyday places such as churches, sports grounds, farms and beaches — are being damaged by extreme weather and there is strong scientific evidence showing that climate change is a key driver of this.
Here are 6 of our favourite places that are being affected by extreme weather linked to climate change right now:
1. Birling Gap
Where: An area of outstanding beauty, near Eastbourne in East Sussex, Birling Gap is part of the world famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs.
How is it being affected by extreme weather?: Over recent years the speed of erosion has rapidly increased. During the 2013 and 2014 winter storms, the equivalent of seven years of erosion took place in just two months as a result of a combination of climate change and an increase in the regularity of storm events during this period.
2. Wordsworth House and Gardens
Where: Wordsworth House and Garden in Cockermouth, sits on the bank of the River Derwent in the Lake District,where the romantic poet William Wordsworth was born and spent his childhood in the 1770’s.
How is it being affected by extreme weather?: On November 19th, 2009, 300mm of rain fell in just 24 hours. At the height of the floods, the water in the town centre was up to ten feet deep and the torrent flowed at 25 mph.
The eight-feet tall front gates and a garden wall, which had survived since the 1690s, were swept away, the shop was damaged and the flood waters had left a layer of silt and other debris covering Wordsworth’s garden, and heritage plants were torn out at the roots.
3. Beckmickle Ing Woodlands
Where: Beckmickle Ing is an ancient woodland which is just a stone’s throw away from the Lake District National Park, and home to many animals such as roe deer and red squirrel.
How is it being affected by extreme weather?: The whole of Cumbria was very badly affected by storms and heavy rainfall which hit the UK during the winter of 2015–2016. During the first week of December 2015, the Met Office recorded record rainfall totals across Cumbria, 2 to 4 times the average in the west and north. It was against this backdrop that the Woodland Trust, who owns and manages the woodland, found Beckmickle Ing under siege from flooding and flood impacts throughout the month of December.
The surge of the flood waters tore apart 20 metres of a dry stone wall, scattering large boulders across the woods. Paths along the River Kent were completely ripped up, other riverside paths were inundated with flood waters, and a footbridge over the stream was completely lifted off its bearers and dumped into a nearby bush.
4. Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens
Where: The historic Plas Cadnant hidden gardens near the Menai Bridge on Anglesey date back to the mid 1800s. Anthony Tavernor bought the then-overgrown 200-acre estate in 1996 and has spent more than 20 years restoring the gardens, including many of its original features.
How is it being affected by extreme weather?: On Boxing Day 2015 a ‘tidal wave’ of flood water swept through the gardens following days of heavy rain, demolishing a 200-year-old wall, stone obelisks, platforms and seats. The force of the water wiped out a number of plants including rare botanical species, washed away many of the garden’s footpaths and damaged a visitor car park.
5. Skara Brae
Where: Skara Brae is a Neolithic settlement, dating back more than 5000 years, and contains some of the earliest surviving examples of simple furnishings anywhere in the world, such as stone-built shelves, beds, and a central fireplace.
How is it being affected by extreme weather?: Given the settlement’s location near the ocean, extreme weather events put its long-term sustainability in doubt. Records since the 1960s show that average rainfall has increased by more than 20%, and in northern Scotland winter rainfall has increased by more than 70%. In future, intensity of rainfall and storms may increase in regularity and ferocity if climate change is left unchecked. Given the long-term eroding power of water and the short-term destructive power of a violent storm, Skara Brae may disappear completely.
6. Rivers Usk and Wye
Where: The Rivers Wye and Usk are renowned throughout the world for their populations of Atlantic Salmon.
How is it being affected by extreme weather?: Since 2002 a slight downward trend in numbers of young salmon hatching has been recorded annually in the River Usk. Numbers hit an exceptionally low level when routine monitoring by Natural Resources Wales revealed that 8 of 13 sites tested showed no salmon at all last year. Five other sites showed very low levels of young salmon. Natural Resources Wales described the results as ‘unprecedented’ in 30 years of monitoring.
The places we hold dear are bearing the brunt of extreme weather linked to climate change, but it’s not too late to protect them. If we want to best safeguard our environment, we need wider support from the UK Government — and indeed politicians around the world.
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