Climate change and the rise in sea levels is posing an increasing threat to grassroots sport in the UK, according to a new report.
Published by the Climate Coalition, and backed by the Priestley International Centre for Climate (PICC), the report is titled ‘Game changer: how climate change is impacting sports in the UK’ and focuses on four sports: golf, football, skiing and cricket.
The average lower league football club is losing five weeks every year to bad weather, with the Premier League and Sport England making £750,000 available to support clubs affected by flooding in 2015/2016. Meanwhile, the Football Association will invest £48m in hundreds of new all-weather and specially adapted turf pitches across the country.
The PICC’s Kate Sambrook and Piers Forster wrote in the report: “Cancelled football matches, flooded cricket grounds and golf courses crumbling into the sea: climate change is already impacting our ability to play and watch the sports we love.
“There is growing evidence that the UK is becoming warmer and wetter. During the last 20-30 years, the UK has experienced a rapid increase in extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall, bringing severe flooding in many areas. Six out of the seven wettest years in our history have occurred since 2000.
“Seasonal differences in rainfall mean that different sports are affected in different ways. For football, with fixtures throughout the winter, the main concern is the 26% increase in winter rainfall since 1900. The recent winters of 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 were notable for their record-breaking rainfall, with over 150% more rainfall than normal. The resulting flooding affected sports facilities across the country.
“In a recent study researchers found that climate change made the UK’s record December rainfall in 2015 59% more likely. Future projections by the Met Office indicate that winter rainfall could increase by 70-100% by the 2080s. While there will still be drier years, this suggests that wet winters like the ones we have experienced lately could become more common in the future, increasing the risk of further damaging floods in the UK.”