Climate change: When even Scotland is being hit by drought, it's time to worry – Scotsman comment

26 days to Cop26: Given Scotland’s weather can be reasonably accurately summed up as “sunshine and showers”, it is perhaps surprising to find ourselves talking about water shortages.

Climate change is bringing both flooding from heavy rainfall and droughts to Scotland (Picture: Neil Hanna)

However, according to Dundee University academic Dr Sarah Halliday, some parts of the country have been experiencing “moderate water scarcity”.

Climate change is putting increasing pressure on our freshwater resources and dependent ecosystems here in Scotland,” she said. “Changes in rainfall patterns and increases in extreme events means flash floods and droughts are both becoming increasingly common. In July, over half the month’s rainfall fell in one hour, leading to significant flash flooding in Edinburgh.”

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The low level of some rivers, such as the Water of Leith, has been noticeable even to casual passers-by for much of the summer. But Dr Halliday warned it could become a significant problem for the likes of hydro-electric power stations and whisky distilleries.

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Scotland's whisky and hydro-power at risk due to climate change water shortages ...

Some people still think of climate change as a problem far away in distance or in time, a view countered strongly by Frances Guy’s excellent article in The Scotsman today.

However, if even Scotland – warmed and watered as it is by the North Atlantic Drift – already has reason to worry about drought then it should perhaps focus minds on the immediacy of the problem.

And, as we have pointed out before, the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report found that the main Atlantic Ocean current system is weakening and it is “very likely” to continue to do so, with only “medium confidence” that there will not be an “abrupt collapse before 2100”.

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