The 10 Hottest Years Ever Recorded In The UK All Occurred In The 21st Century

Heatwaves, just like last week's, are becoming increasingly common during the British summer. Tim M/Shutterstock

It’s official: The 10 hottest years ever recorded in the UK have all occurred in the 21st century, serving as a further indication that our planet’s climate is undergoing a dramatic and worrying change.  

The Met Office has just released a new report showing that the UK’s top 10 warmest years on record (from 1884 onwards) have all occurred since 2002. Furthermore, none of the 10 coldest years have occurred since 1963. 

Starting with the record-breaking hottest year on record, the top 10 warmest years in sequence are: 2014, 2006, 2011, 2007, 2017, 2003, 2018, 2004, 2002, and 2005. The top 10 coolest years, in order, are: 1892, 1888, 1885, 1963, 1919, 1886, 1917, 1909, 1887, and 1962.

The full report, called the State of the UK Climate 2018, was published in the International Journal of Climatology on Tuesday. 

"It is hugely significant, though not surprising, that the UK’s top 10 warmest years have all occurred since 2002 and that summer 2018 was the joint-hottest ever. The world has warmed 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times, meaning that hot years are the new normal," Dr Michael Byrne, lecturer in Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of St Andrews, who was not directly involved with the research, commented on the report.

 

The UK's "warming strips" from 1884 onwards: Years warmer than average shown in red, cooler than average shown in blue. UK MET OFFICE 

Increasing rainfall was another pattern clearly seen in the report. Over the last decade, summers have been 13 percent wetter and winters have been 12 percent wetter compared to levels seen in the period 1961-1990. As a result, six of the 10 wettest years ever recorded in the UK have occurred since 1998.

Bucket loads of rain is another clear sign of climate change. Rising global temperatures also bring increased evaporation of water and changing air currents, resulting in increased precipitation and more storms, although some land areas will experience less rainfall as a result of these changes. 

"It is also 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," added Professor Gabi Hegerl, professor of Climate System Science at the University of Edinburgh. "Climate change already matters to the UK and makes a difference."

Warming average temperatures is a trend that’s being seen across the world, not just in the UK. Globally, nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005, with the years 2014 to 2018 ranking as the five warmest years on record. 

2019 is also on track to become the second hottest year on record, just behind 2016, which experienced an El Niño phase that boosts temperatures in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns. The global average temperature for June 2019 was the hottest June in 140 years, while the April 2019 was 2nd hottest on record, according to a monthly report by US NOAA.

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