A long sunny weekend at Glastonbury might 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 daytime temperatures of up to 38C on Worthy Farm, where campers would also have to endure sweltering night-time temperatures that would drop only to a minimum of 26C.
This contrasts with the existing highest temperature on record for Glastonbury of 31.2C in 2017.
In the video, Met Office forecaster Aiden McGivern says: “Hello, it’s Wednesday 22 June 2050, and if you’re heading to Glastonbury this weekend the Met Office has issued an extreme heat warning, with the ongoing heatwave expected to keep going until Sunday evening.”
The forecasters look at what could occur if an area of high pressure over Scandinavia and low pressure over the Atlantic brought hot air up from southwestern Europe.
“With long spells of hot sunshine, temperatures will quickly rise,” Mr McGivern says.
If such a heatwave did occur, the Met Office warned, it would result in fit healthy people being at risk of heat exhaustion. Transport and power distribution would probably be affected too.
“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 adds: “’Possible’ and ‘could’ are both words that 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 warns that current emission trends mean we are not on track to reduce them significantly enough to avoid temperature rises that the UN has described as being “catastrophic”.
The climate crisis is exacerbating heatwaves around the world, making them longer and hotter, resulting in more intensive effects, from an increasing number of heat-related deaths among humans, to wildfires, storms, floods and worsening outlooks for agriculture and biodiversity.
The Glastonbury 2050 forecast is based on a high emissions scenario in which “business as usual” continues to see increases in fossil-fuel emissions.
This would lead to hotter, drier summers and milder, wetter winters, the Met Office has said.
Explaining why the Met Office occasionally makes these future scenario-based videos, it 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.”
The service has previously produced plausible future weather scenarios for a July 2050 heatwave, Wimbledon and Christmas 2054.