Experts at the Met Office have warned that there is “no doubt” climate change is playing a role in driving what could be unprecedented temperature highs as
Scotland and the UK sweltered on the hottest day of the year. 

With thermometers hitting 31C (87.8F) in Edinburgh – the hottest temperature ever recorded in the capital – forecasters said the kind of heatwave the country is experiencing is being made more likely, and more intense, by global warming.

South of the Border, it was 38.1C in Cambridge, making yesterday the UK’s second hottest day ever. The weather led to disruption across the rail network.

A study from the Met Office previously showed last year’s summer heatwave was made around 30 times more likely than it would be under natural conditions as a result of human activity driving global warming.

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Campaigners have now warned that the world is facing a climate crisis and urged governments to act together.

But the Westminster advisory Committee on Climate Change has warned the UK is not prepared for the increase in heatwaves that is expected with global warming.

Temperature records that had stood for decades or even just days fell minute by minute on Thursday afternoon across Europe as the heatwave tightened its grip.

Dr Michael Byrne, a lecturer at St Andrews University’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, described the heat record temperatures as “hugely significant”.

He said: “Not only has 2019 brought the world its hottest ever June, but in recent days countries from Belgium to the Netherlands to Germany have broken their all-time heat records. 

“It has never been hotter in northern Europe. Such extreme heat poses serious health risks this week as well as uncomfortable questions about how well the UK is preparing for increasingly frequent and severe heatwaves over the coming decades.

“What is different now is that the global temperature is about 1C hotter than in 1976, meaning that when these unusual weather patterns occur, the heatwave is guaranteed to be more severe.” 

He added: “Met Office scientists found that the 2018 summer heatwave – which delivered the UK’s joint-hottest summer on record – was 30 times more likely because of global warming. 

“Although we cannot say for sure that global warming caused this week’s extreme temperatures, climate change is without doubt ‘loading the dice’ and making heatwaves much more likely and much more severe.”

Parts of Belgium, Germany, Holland and countries in central Europe saw the mercury pushed past 40C, raising public health concerns.

In the UK, yesterday’s scorching temperatures caused chaos on the rail network. A reduced timetable in the south-east began at midday as Network Rail implemented speed restrictions amid fears tracks could buckle in the heat if trains travel too fast.

The extreme conditions also caused damage to overhead electric wires, blocking all lines between London and Luton.

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WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “With Edinburgh reaching record temperatures, nine of out the 10 hottest years ever recorded occurring this century, and this June being the hottest ever recorded, it’s clear that we are in the middle of a climate crisis.

“Although too early to say categorically the extent to which the current
heatwave is caused by climate change, scientists recently found that June’s heatwave across Europe was made at least five times likelier by climate change, while the summer heatwave in the UK last year was made at least 30 times
more likely.
“To prevent the very worst of the climate crisis... that’s currently unfolding in front of our very eyes, we need governments to act now and accelerate the solutions that are already in our hands to ensure we keep warming below 1.5degrees C.”