The UK government has released a new assessment of global warming's potential effects on the country as part of an official climate impacts research programme. The report develops four climate change scenarios, ranging from low to high continued greenhouse gas emissions. The results are designed to help official bodies, businesses and other "stakeholders" to assess their vulnerability to climate change, according to the environment ministry. Environment minister Michael Meacher said the findings underlined the "very real threat" of climate change facing the UK. Temperatures could rise by between 0.16 and 0.35 degrees centigrade per decade compared with 0.14 degrees per decade over the last 20 years, according to the report. The findings also confirm earlier suggestions of significantly different regional effects across the UK. Higher temperatures and lower rainfall are more likely in the south-east, but less likely in the north-west. Even sea-level rise is likely to have regional effects, since some coastal areas are slowly sinking while others are rising. In a related development, environmental group the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warned last week that that climate change could lead to marine inundation of 10,000 hectares of mudflats and salt marshes, putting at risk protected areas and industrial plants.
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