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Friday, October 16, 1998 Published at 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK


UK to get hotter, stormier

Heavy industry is largely responsible for greenhouse gases

Global warming will cause temperatures in the UK to rise by up to 3.5°C in the 21st century, research published by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions predicts.

The increase will mean the north getting wetter, the south getting drier and storms becoming more ferocious.

BBC Science correspondent James Wilkinson: Report is a warning for Britain
Sea levels around the British coast will rise at a rate of between one and four inches every decade, says the report.

The effect is predicted to increase rainfall in the north and west of the British Isles which will potentially contribute to flooding across the region.

Conversely, the south and east will become drier, perpetuating the "drought" conditions that have led to hosepipe bans and water shortages in recent years.

[ image: Flooding will become more common in the 21st century]
Flooding will become more common in the 21st century
In addition, autumns and winters will become stormier and the UK will generally experience more unpredictable extremes of weather throughout the year.

Global warming is widely accepted as a scientific fact by many climatologists, and levels of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), are thought to be to blame.

Another study, published in Science magazine, rejects the idea that the polar ice caps are melting and causing the level of the Earth's oceans to rise as a result .

Environment Minister Michael Meacher: "Very severe winter gales...and very hot days indeed"
A team of British, American and Dutch scientists have used groundbreaking satellite technology to measure accurately the 12 million square miles of the Antarctic ice sheet for the first time.

They have found that, contrary to popular thinking, the ice sheet is not shrinking, forcing them to examine new theories for climate change and rising waters.

[ image: New satellite techniques map the Antarctic ice sheet]
New satellite techniques map the Antarctic ice sheet
Project leader Professor Duncan Wingham, of University College London, believes "thermal expansion" - the increase in the volume of water as it heats up - is responsible for the 18cm rise in global sea levels over the last 100 years.

Professor Wingham said: "The findings support the notion of global warming, because if the ice sheet isn't responsible for this water then thermal expansion presumably has to be.

Friends of the Earth's Charles Secret: "Climate change is not a good thing"
"As a consequence of our research we should be able to produce more accurate predictions on future sea level rises."

Using existing estimates, there will be a 40cm rise in ocean levels over the next 100 years.

This could be catastrophic for lowland areas such as Bangladesh, which experienced some of its worst flooding on record during September.

Despite recent attempts like the 1997 Kyoto, Japan, Framework Convention on Climate Change to restrict the production of greenhouse gases, scentists predict that even if CO2 levels were halted at today's levels, the effects are likely to take centuries to reverse.

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