• When Were the UK's Hottest Years?

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When Were the UK's Hottest Years?

Aug 13 2019

The Met Office have published a report confirming that the 10 hottest years in British recorded history have all taken place in the 21st century, adding to fears that manmade climate change is the culprit. Published on the academic site International Journal of Climatology, the report showed that the top 10 warmest years all occurred in the last 17 years, despite the Met Office having collected data for over 130 years.

Other takeaways from the report include the fact that none of the 10 coldest years have occurred in the last 55 years, that summer 2018 was the joint hottest on record and that the last decade has been an average of 0.3°C hotter than the period between 1981 and 2010 and almost a whole degree (0.9°C) warmer than the years 1961 to 1990.

Top of the hots

Five years ago saw the hottest ever recorded year (2014), with 2006 and 2011 rounding out the top three. The other years making up the top ten in order are: 2007, 2017, 2003, 2018, 2004, 2002 and 2005. What’s more, the dry heat which afflicted most of Europe last year (and which was predicted over six weeks in advance by climate specialists) was found to be the joint hottest summer on record in the UK and the overall hottest in England.

Perhaps the most concerning statistic of all is the consistency of the rising temperatures. Given that the years 2009-18 were nearly a full degree warmer than the 30-year period between 1961 and 1990, it seems almost impossible to argue that the world is not experiencing an alarmingly rapid alteration in its weather patterns.

It never rains but it pours

The Met Office study also analysed statistics pertaining to precipitation in the UK since 1884. As proof that climate change affects other facets of weather (not just temperature), six of the 10 wettest winters have all taken place in the last 20 years. The most recent decade saw summers that were 11% wetter than the two decades preceding it and 13% wetter than the period between 1961 and 1990.

“It is interesting that a high number of the wettest years in the UK occurred recently, showing that climate change starts to show up even in highly variable aspects of weather such as rainfall,” said Professor Gabi Hegerl from the University of Edinburgh (who was not directly involved in the research). “Climate change already matters to the UK and makes a difference.”

Taking action

Concerned environmentalists have pointed to the Met Office’s findings as further proof that urgent action is required to avoid further hikes in temperature, both in the UK and further afield. Thankfully, the issue is becoming more prominent on a global scale, as even nations which have traditionally eschewed addressing climate change are now putting it on the agenda.

The upcoming Conference and Exhibition on Emissions Monitoring (CEM 2019) in India is one such example of how climate change awareness has spread. Hopefully, the ongoing promotion of reports such as the Met Office one, alongside private sector investment into green technologies and government drives to encourage their uptake can help us to limit our emissions and bring runaway climate change under control, once and for all.


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