London’s River Thames has shrunk under extreme heat and impending drought

The River Thames generally begins in the English market town of Cirencester, which is part of the rolling green countryside of the Cotswolds, and flows through the capital, London, then empties into the North Sea.

The start of the river has moved 8 kilometers downstream to Somerford Keynes, according to the Rivers Trust, which works across the UK and Ireland.

The flow is low and barely perceptible.

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

“Source” refers to the beginning or upper course of a river.

“While it’s not uncommon for the spring to be dry in the summer, to only see the river flowing five miles downstream is unprecedented,” she said. “The climate crisis is and will lead to more extreme weather, including droughts and heat waves. This poses a serious threat to rivers and, therefore, to the wider landscape.”

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She added that the country needed to build resilience to future climate.

“That means detecting household leaks, fixing major 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 upper course of the river comes as English authorities warn the nation could officially fall into drought sometime in August.

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

Several water companies have already announced hosepipe bans in parts of southern England.

The UK’s Met Office has warned that high temperatures will return to England next week, although they are unlikely to reach anywhere near the record highs seen in July.

He said in a statement that an area of ​​high pressure was building from the Atlantic to the south and southwest of England, and temperatures could reach 30°C, 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 three or more days,” Met Office chief forecaster Steve Willington said. “As the high pressure builds, there is very little significant rain in the forecast, particularly in parts of southern England, which have seen very dry conditions in the past month.”

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

“These two factors suggest that temperatures are very unlikely to peak much above 30 degrees,” she said. “However, it would still be a period of warm weather.”

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


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