World · August 6, 2022

The River Thames in London has shrunk due to extreme heat and impending drought

The River Thames usually begins in the English market town of Cirencester, part of the green and hilly countryside of the Cotswolds, and flows through the capital, London, and flows into the North Sea.

The start of the river has moved 5 miles (8 kilometers) downstream to Somerford Keynes, according to the Rivers Trust, which operates in the UK and Ireland.

The flow there is faint and only barely discernible.

“What we are seeing at the source of the iconic River Thames is sadly emblematic of the situation we are facing across the country now and in the future,” said Christine Colvin, Rivers Trust Advocacy and Engagement Director, in a statement sent to CNN. .

A drained part of the river in Kemble, England.

The “spring” refers to the beginning, or springs, of a river.

“While it’s not uncommon for the spring to be dry in the summer, seeing the river flowing just five miles downstream is unprecedented,” he said. “The climate crisis is leading, and will lead, to more extreme weather conditions, including droughts and heat waves. This poses a major threat to rivers and, consequently, to the landscape in general.”

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He added that the country needed to build resilience against the future climate.

“This means detecting domestic leaks, repairing network infrastructure leaks, using water more efficiently nationwide, and implementing sustainable drainage solutions as part of desperately needed green infrastructure,” Colvin said.

The change in the river’s headwaters comes when British authorities warn the nation could officially fall into drought at some point in August.

A view of Tower Bridge spanning the River Thames in London.
Southern England recorded the driest July on record since 1836, with only 17% of average rainfall, according to the Met’s office. The country as a whole recorded only 35% (about 23 millimeters) of average rainfall in July.

Several water companies have already announced a ban on piping in parts of southern England.

The UK Met Office has warned that high temperatures will return to England next week, although they are not expected to reach the all-time highs seen in July.

He said in a statement that a high-pressure area was being built from the Atlantic in the south and south-west of England and that temperatures could reach the mid-30s, in degrees Celsius, towards the end of next week. .

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“We could see parts of the UK enter heatwave conditions if above average temperatures last for three days or more,” Met Office chief forecaster Steve Willington said. “As the high pressure builds, there is little significant rain forecast, especially in those areas in southern England which experienced very dry conditions last month.”

Rebekah Sherwin, the Met Office’s deputy chief meteorologist, said the UK’s early August sun didn’t have the same warming potential as mid-July because the sun is lower in the sky and the days are shorter.

“Both of these factors suggest that temperatures are very unlikely to peak much above the mid-1930s,” he said. “However, this would still be a hot time.”

In continental Europe, some countries, including France, are experiencing their third summer heat wave and pockets of the continent are in drought.