'UK's ten hottest years since 1884 have all occured this century'

The UK's average temperatures in selected years. All its hottest years since 1884 have occurred this century.
The UK's average temperatures in selected years. All its hottest years since 1884 have occurred this century. Copyright Credit: Met Office
By Lauren Chadwick
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This shows the UK's average temperatures in selected years. All its hottest years since 1884 have occurred this century.


The ten hottest years in the United Kingdom have all occurred since 2002, the Met Office said on Wednesday.

All the country's coldest years occurred before 1963, it added.

The Met Office said its fifth annual climate report, published in the International Journal of Climatology, was proof of a changing climate.

It analyses climate in 2018 and contains temperature records dating back to 1884, as part of the UK national weather service's effort to digitise historical weather information.

The Met Office extended the weather information record back by 26 years — from 1910 to 1884 for the latest report. The extension back in time showed a number of cold years, some of which ended up in the top ten coldest.

"Notably, 1892 is the coldest year in the series, when the average temperature was just over seven degrees," said Dr Mark McCarthy, who is head of the Met Office's National Climate Information Centre.

"By contrast 2014, which was the warmest year in the series, saw an average temperature approaching ten degrees Celsius."

Record temperatures

The report comes roughly a week after the UK recorded its highest temperature — 38.7°C at the Cambridge Botanic Garden.

The Met Office validated that temperature earlier this week.

The highest recorded temperature in the UK was previously 38.5°C, recorded in Kent in August 2003.

"Climate change has increased the likelihood and severity of heatwave episodes across Europe, which will have also increased the risks of a 40.0°C temperature event in the UK,” Dr McCarthy said in a statement released on Monday.

"In 2018 the Met Office published an analysis showing that human emissions of greenhouse gases made the summer of 2018 thirty times more likely to occur."

The University of Exeter professor and Met Office fellow Peter Stott said that although the average rise of temperature is around 1.0°C since "pre-industrial times", high-pressure systems can bring up hot air originating in North Africa.

"Temperatures in parts of North Africa, for example, have risen by around 2.0°C. This can have a marked effect on UK weather because when the weather patterns," Prof Stott said.

In the last decade, summers have been 13% wetter and winters have been 12% wetter in the UK compared with the period from 1961 to 1990. Six of the ten wettest years in the UK occurred since 1998.

The year 2018 also had notable weather events, the report said, including a heatwave and a cold snap in March. Even so, 2018 was the seventh warmest year and (along with 2006) had the warmest summer.

The year 2018 was the third sunniest year for the UK out of records dating back to 1929, with only 2003 and 1995 sunnier, the report also said.

Sea-level was recorded as equal-highest in the UK with 2015 out of records dating back to 1901.

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