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Issue 66 - Things hotting up

Whisky Magazine Issue 66
September 2007

 

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Things hotting up

In the two-part investigation Dave Broom examines the potential effects of global warming on the scotch whisky industry. Part 1 looks at the potential scenario for whisky production by the end of the century

The world is heating up. Carbon levels in the atmosphere are now higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years.

The 20th century was the warmest in the last millennium and the 1990s was the warmest decade for the previous 100 years. In the United Kingdom, we witnessed the warmest weather since records began in 1660.

How then does this global phenomenon affect the UK, Scotland and the whisky industry?

The picture of the UK in 2080 painted by the UKCIP02 report shows a country which has got progressively warmer with annual temperatures between 2.5ºC and 4ºC warmer than today, with northern Scotland warming the least and the southeast of England rising the most. The difference between seasons is more dramatic than it is today. Summers have become increasingly hot (England and Wales by up to 4.5ºC, Scotland by between 3º - 3.5ºC) Although this has resulted in a fall in annual precipitation by up to 10 per cent across the country, winters have got wetter and rain is falling in more intense bursts. Snowfalls have been reduced to below 70 per cent of today's levels, in Scotland they have fallen by 66 per cent. In addition, coastal waters have warmed and the sea level has risen by 30cm. This, coupled with more storms has increased incidences of flooding.

Though the effects are at their most extreme in the south-east of England, Scotland has not escaped. The east coast will also see the most significant rise in summer temperatures.

Though the west coast will remain ...

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