New Climate Projections Summary for Scotland

Adaptation Scotland has published a new climate projections summary. The summary provides an overview for Scotland of the most up to date UK Met Office Climate Projections and has been produced in partnership with the Met Office, Scottish Government, SEPA, Nature Scot, Historic Environment Scotland, Our Dynamic Coast and ClimateXChange. It will help build common understanding on the future climate that Scotland will experience. The summary both provides key information about recent climate trends and projections on how these changes are likely to continue and intensify in coming decades.

Over the last few decades Scotland has already experienced a warming trend, shifting rainfall patterns, and rising sea levels:

  • Scotland’s 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1997. The average temperature in the last decade (2010-2019) was around 0.7°C warmer than the 1961-1990 average.
  • There has been an increase in rainfall over Scotland in the past few decades, with an increasing proportion coming from heavy rainfall events. The average year in the last decade (2010-2019) was 9% wetter than the 1961-1990 average.
  • Average sea level around the UK has risen by approximately 1.4 mm/year since the start of the 20th century.

The summary indicates how the climate in Scotland is projected to change in the future. Projections are provided for a ‘best case’ low global emissions scenario, which assumes sustained and rapid reductions in international emissions, and a high emissions scenario, which outlines more extreme changes which are projected if such reductions are not achieved. The summary provides a range of change considered likely, but the figures below are the central estimates of these ranges.

  • Scotland will experience warmer, wetter winters, with more intense rainfall events. By 2080 under a low global emissions scenario, average winters are projected to be around 5% wetter and 1.1°C warmer. Under a high global emissions scenario, average winters are projected to be around 19% wetter and 2.7°C warmer.
  • Scotland will experience hotter, drier summers, with greater extremes. By 2080 under a low global emissions scenario, average summers are projected to be around 1.1°C warmer and 11% drier. Under a high global emissions scenario average summers are projected to be around 3°C warmer and 18% drier.
  • Sea levels will continue to rise around Scotland’s coast. By 2080 under a low global emissions scenario, sea levels in Edinburgh are projected to be around 19 cm higher. Under a high global emission scenario, this is projected to increase by around 38 cm.

The summary sets out the expected changes in temperature, rainfall and sea level for Scotland, but does not provide a detailed analysis of the impacts and risks that will arise from these changes. The next statutory Climate Change Risk Assessment, which will review the full range of priority risks for Scotland based on evidence provided by the Committee on Climate Change, is due for publication in early 2022.

Welcoming the current publication, Environment and Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said ‘These projections emphasise the importance of both increased international efforts to reduce emissions and of increased adaptation to a range of future scenarios. Building Scotland’s national resilience to the changing global climate is a vitally important aspect of our green recovery from COVID-19.As we await the next full Climate Change Risk Assessment, this new summary provides a clear overview of the changes in climate that are projected for Scotland and is important reading for everyone involved in planning, investment and decision making.’.

Ruth Wolstenholme, Adaptation Scotland Programme Director said ‘Adaptation Scotland is delighted to join forces with our partners to provide clear and consistent information about Scotland’s changing climate. Producing this joint summary helps us to clearly communicate about Scotland’s climate challenge and provides readers with an important overview of changes in climate that should be factored into decision making.

Download the new summary here: