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Weather focus: UK seasons are changing. says University of East Anglia expert

PUBLISHED: 17:43 24 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:36 25 July 2018

Dr Jeff Price, UEA. Picture: Contributed

Dr Jeff Price, UEA. Picture: Contributed

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Today’s extreme weather conditions could become normal over time, according to a University of East Anglia expert.

We mow our lawns too much in the west; once a week is plenty, says Dr Jeff Price. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoWe mow our lawns too much in the west; once a week is plenty, says Dr Jeff Price. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

“We think of the current situation as excessive,” said Dr Jeff Price, a senior researcher at UEA’s Tyndall Climate Change Centre. “But this will become the new normal.

“By the end of the century, we will see August weather occurring in June, while December weather will be more like April. We’re talking about a shift in seasonality.”

And, while the finest brains in the business have been looking at extreme weather conditions for decades, it will be months at best before we can expect an explanation for the current climate phenomenon, he added.

“Entire teams of scientists, notably in America and Australia, are trying as quickly as possible to attribute weather events to causes such as human activity and natural factors,” said Dr Price. “It takes masses of computer runs.”

If climate change is the culprit, plant and animal species are at immediate risk. Dr Price estimates that even if the Paris climate agreement targets are met – holding the increase in the global average temperature to 2deg C above pre-industrial levels – flora and fauna in the Amazon and the Galapagos could face local extinction by the turn of the century if carbon emissions continue to rise unchecked.

“Pledges are made, but governments are not so good at keeping them,” Dr Price said. “I believe 2.7 to 3.2deg C of warming is more likely – and even a 1.5deg C increase will affect agriculture.

“Farmers will be unsure when to plant, the bugs won’t know when to come out and pollinators will become confused. Agricultural systems will have to change to accommodate the shifts in seasonality.

“As the new climate patterns become more normal, it will become easier for farmers to adapt. But at what point do you decide to move out of sugar beet production and into olives?”

He added: “What we are used to has changed. We have to get used to the new weather regime.”

One positive emerges for the reluctant gardener, however. “Mowing the lawn is a mistake,” Dr Price said.

“As grass gets taller, it puts down longer roots so, when it does rain, it recovers quickly. We mow our lawns too much in Europe and the United States; once a week is plenty.”

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