What might high temperatures and low rainfall mean for the Scottish economy?

Scott J. McGrane, Grant Allan and Graeme Roy

The prolonged period of warm and dry weather during June and early July is at odds with what many of us would call a “traditional Scottish summer”. These conditions however, are representative of a number of quite extraordinary global weather events that have occurred in the past few months. From the ongoing drought conditions, wildfires and subsequent flooding and landslide events that ravaged California last year, the near-miss of “day zero” in Cape Town, where dry conditions and poor water management almost resulted in no water supply being available, and the global heatwave currently impacting many countries across the globe, climatic extremes have had significant impacts on livelihoods, infrastructure and economies alike.

In this note we set out whether this is genuinely atypical weather, what the consequences have been for water in Scotland (both in terms of supply and demand), before discussing what is currently known about the links between Scotland’s economy and water. We conclude with a discussion of what this recent period might mean for the Scottish economy in a future climate in which water characteristics seen over the last few weeks may be more regular occurrences.

This is part of a new project we’re working on with colleagues at Stanford University in the US looking at the role of technology in improving environmental measurement and the potential implications for our economy.

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July 26, 2018