The weather has hardly been out of the news recently. Floods, downpours, droughts, massive forest fires, loss of sea ice, fast rising sea levels and longer, more intense heat waves are making the headlines. Even frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean have started to be released. Methane has a warming effect 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide over 20 years. Many of these actions are resulting in loss of life, homes, workplaces and population movements.
In case you have not noticed, the UK’s climate has also continued to warm up, with 2020 the first year to have temperature, rain and sunshine rankings all in the top 10 according to a report from the UK Met Office.
The latest analysis of the UK climate, State of the UK Climate 2020 published in The Royal Meteorological Society’s ‘International Journal of Climatology’, has shown that climate change is already being felt across the UK. All of the top-ten warmest years for the UK in records back to 1884 have occurred since 2002, and, for central England, the 21st century so far has been warmer than the previous three centuries.
The last 30-year period (1991-2020) has been 0.9°C warmer than the preceding 30 years (1961-1990). The warming trend is evident across all months and all countries in the UK. The greatest warming compared to 1961-1990 has been across the east Midlands and East Anglia where average annual temperatures have increased by more than 1°C, with the least warming around western coastal fringes and parts of Northern Ireland and Scotland.
As well as increased temperatures, the UK has been on average 6% wetter over the last 30 years (1991-2020) than the preceding 30 years (1961-1990). Six of the ten wettest years for the UK in a series from 1862 have occurred since 1998.
In the UK 2020 was the first year that the annual values for rainfall, temperature and sunshine were all in the top ten in the same year. It was third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest on record.
“Our report shows climate change is exerting an increasing impact on the UK’s climate,” said Mike Kendon, lead author of the report. “Since 2002 we have seen the warmest 10 years in the series. By contrast, to find a year in the coldest 10 we have to go back to 1963 – over 50 years ago.”