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The UN's Global Goal 13 calls for action on climate change, and we urgently need to step up to deliver that. We're already seeing changing weather patterns that reflect what's to come — and climate change is predicted to cause widespread devastation, food and water instability, and more extreme weather events. Join the movement by taking action here in support of climate action and help achieve the Global Goals. 

The Met Office has released new analysis of the UK’s climate dating back to 1884 — and it’s identified some pretty alarming trends in British weather in the last 135 years. 

Of the top 10 hottest years ever recorded in Britain, all of them have occurred since 2002, according to the State of the UK Climate report. 

And in terms of rainfall, six of the 10 wettest years have occurred since 1998. 

The figures are “further indications of a changing climate,” according to the Met Office.

In the most recent analysis, the Met Office looked a further 26 years back than previously, so records now date back to 1884.

“Looking back further into the UK’s weather reveals a very interesting timeline with the top 10 warmest years at the most recent end, since 2002,” said Dr. Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre. 

“Extending the record back by 26 years from 1910 to 1884 didn’t bring in any new warm years, but it did bring in a number of new cold years, including several that are now within the top 10 coldest years,” he added. 

“Notably, 1892 is the coldest year in the series, when the average temperature was just over 7C,” he continued. “By contrast 2014, which was the warmest year in the series, saw an average temperature approaching 10C.” 

Last year, 2018, is also very notable on the list, coming in at seventh hottest. That’s despite the “Beast from the East” cold snap, which brought with it the most significant snowfall in Britain since 2010. Generally, the Met Office notes, UK snow events have been declining since the 1960s.

Meanwhile, 2018 also saw 10 named storms impacting the UK. 

In full, the top 10 warmest years on record were: 2014, 2006, 2011, 2007, 2017, 2003, 2018, 2004, 2002, and 2005. 

The coldest years since 1884, meanwhile all fell much earlier. The top 10 coldest years in Britain were: 1892, 1888, 1885, 1963, 1919, 1886, 1917, 1909, 1887, and 1962. 

McCarthy added that climate change “has increased the likelihood and severity of heatwave episodes across Europe.”

The new report comes just a week after the UK saw its hottest temperature ever recorded — on July 25 at Cambridge’s Botanic Garden it hit highs of 38.7C (101.7F), topping the previous record of 38.5C in Faversham, Kent, in Aug. 2003.

“Exceptionally high temperatures gripped large parts of central and western Europe last week,” the Met Office said in a statement confirming the record on Monday. “The UK joins Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands in breaking national temperature records.” 

Heatwaves are extreme weather events, but research shows that with climate change they are likely to become more intense, the Met Office added. 

According to climate scientist Prof. Peter Stott, the average rise of global temperature is about 1C compared with pre-industrial times.

But he added that “we mustn’t forget that the rise isn’t even across the globe as some regions have warmed more than others.” 

“Temperatures in parts of North Africa, for example, have risen by about 2C,” he said. “This can have a marked effect on UK weather because when the weather patterns, like we saw last week, bring air from this region to our shores it can bring a stronger signal of climate change with it too, boosting temperatures.” 

He said that, as the UK is influenced by other neighbouring regions which are warming at a faster rate than the UK, that the British climate “can receive a greater boost from climate change.” 


Defend the Planet

Every One of the UK's 10 Hottest Years Have All Occurred Since 2002

By Imogen Calderwood