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UK will avoid the European heatwave with mild and showery weather set to continue

While southern Europe swelters in another day of 40 degree heat, in much of Britain the weather remains stubbornly unsettled and grey.

The jet stream, the broad current of fast winds that rips around the globe five to seven miles above our heads, is in a southerly position which is holding a high-pressure system over the Continent, but also blocking it from reaching the UK and leaving us with a low-pressure system.

It’s likely to stay that way for several weeks, with pressure only starting to build next month, according to the Met Office. It expects the changeable, mild weather to persist at least into August with the potential for above average rainfall at the start of the month, before a possible return to more seasonal average.

Christoph Almond, a meteorological expert at the Met Office told i: “There are signs that the persistent areas of low pressure we’ve been experiencing of late could become less dominant, and pressure could start to build near the UK through August which would lead to a reduction in rainfall, and a recovery in temperatures to around or a little above average.”

Such is the difference in weather on either side of the jet stream that, despite a record-breaking June, the rest of the summer in Britain is unlikely to see anything like the extreme heat across the Channel.

Mr Almond added: “There are no signs yet of anything unusual, or any prolonged heat like that being experienced in mainland Europe at the moment – more just a return to typical UK summer conditions.”

That should, though, mean slightly better weather in the second half of August, with the country generally experiencing average highs of just over 20 degrees over the last 40 years.

Britain’s weather in general is becoming more variable and unpredictable, owing to the effects of climate change. By placing more energy into the global climate systems, their long-term stability is breaking down while extremes are becoming more possible.

The Met Office estimates that the record-breaking heat in June was twice as likely to happen as it was in 1940, one of the previous joint-hottest Junes. Meanwhile, last summer’s 40-degree weather would likely have been impossible without the impact of human-induced climate change.

Studies have found that European heatwaves have become longer and stronger since the 50s.

With the Earth already at 1.2 degrees of warming above the pre-industrial average, the current effects are locked in and likely to become stronger. There are concerns that various global systems, such as the Gulf Stream, which brings warm water from the Caribbean to the North Atlantic and moderates Britain’s winters, could break down.

Scientists believe that the jet stream could become weaker and more prone to deviations as the temperature differential between the Artic and the the rest of the Northern Hemisphere decreases. This could expose previously temperate northern climes to both Arctic blasts in winter and extreme heat in summer.

The increased variability in Britain’s weather from climate change does not mean that there will be extremes all the time, but it makes extraordinary weather more likely and more extreme when it does happen.

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