National Trust maps out climate threat to coast, countryside and it’s historic places

You might want to show this to your children and grandchildren, because this is their future unless we get our act together.

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On a scale of 1 to 5 (blue represents low risk; red represents highest risk) this is the first map of its kind to plot data in this way, helping the National Trust to identify the hazard level facing it’s countryside locations, monuments, coastlines and historical sites in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For the rest of us, it’s a grim indicator of what’s in store in the next forty years unless drastic mitigation policies are put in place.

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2020 – Overheating and Humidity – 2060

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By plotting its sites alongside existing data on climate change related events, the charity is able to understand how, at a local scale, potential risk factors (extreme heat and humidity, flooding, landslides, coastal erosion, soil heave and high winds) could change by 2060.

Map layers are provided for overheating and humidity; storm damage; slope failure; soil heave based on two periods; where we currently are (2020) and where we might be headed (2060). Working to a worst-case model of no intervention on emissions, the map is intended to be used as a “flagging tool” to highlight potential hazards to the locality of a site

The release of the map comes eight months before world leaders gather in Glasgow for COP26 to formulate a global plan on how to tackle the climate crisis at a global level. The map is drawn using a “worst case scenario” in which emissions continue their current trajectory unchecked. The map plots 5km hexgrids, each indicating the threat level from one to five for that area.

For the National Trust this represents:

Assuming there was no intervention on emissions before 2060, key findings include: 

  • The number of National Trust sites at high or medium risk of climate related hazards could increase from 20,457 (30 per cent) in 2020 to 47,888 (71 per cent) in 2060 out of a total 67,426 sites. 
  • The number of National Trust sites in the highest threat level area could rise from 3,371 (five per cent) to 11,462 (17 per cent) in the same period. 
  • The number of National Trust scheduled monuments at high or medium threat risk are projected to increase from 1453 (27 per cent) today to 3861 (72 per cent) out of  a total 5388 by 2060.
  • Heat and humidity will rise dramatically, with the south east particularly susceptible to drastic increases. A third of National Trust sites in the region will experience at least 15 days of over 30 degrees a year. This will be exacerbated in urban areas like London, due to the Urban Heat Island effect.
  • Storm damage, landslides and flooding we have experienced in recent years are set to become common occurrences and more widespread, particularly in Wales and the North of England 
  • Coastal erosion and flooding will increase in Northern Ireland, potentially leading to more landslides around locations like the world-famous Giants Causeway. 

So, working on the age-old principle that an English person’s home is their Castle . . . this also means us!

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The map is available to view at National Trust Maps

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