Met Office reveals UK temperatures continue to rise

With the rainy summer of 2017 paling in comparison to the continued scorching heat of 2018, it may come as a surprise that last year was the fifth warmest year on record for the UK – but Met Office and global data shows a clear upwards trend in temperatures that cannot be ignored.

Dry cracked ground due to heatwave
Dry cracked ground due to heatwave
Kate Dickinson

The Met Office has revealed that 2017 was the UK’s fifth warmest year on record, with nine of the 10 hottest years in the country occurring since 2002.

In its fourth annual ‘State of the UK climate’ report, the national weather forecaster examines the trends, variations and extremes of climate experienced across the country during 2017. A clear upwards trend in temperature has been revealed in the report, with the last decade (2008-2017) experiencing weather an average of 0.3 degrees warmer than the average from 1981 to 2010, and 0.8 degrees higher than 1961 to 1990.

And it seems highly likely that figures for this year will outpace last year, with scorching temperatures this summer breaking records on every continent. Japan reached a dangerous 41.1 degrees Celsius in Kumugaya, near Tokyo, while Norway, Finland and Sweden all recorded temperatures of at least 33 degrees with various locations surpassing their all-time heat records. 

In the UK, provisional figures from the Met Office suggest that Scotland recorded its hottest temperature ever, reaching 33.2 degrees in Motherwell, while the month of May was apparently the warmest since records began.

Worldwide, 2018 has been predicted by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NAOO) to be the fourth hottest year on record, following 2015, 2016 and 2017. The unprecedented heat this summer has brought about a change in media approaches to climate change, with more and more reports acknowledging the link between increasingly extreme temperatures and the underlying process of global warming. 

Mark McCarthy, manager of the Met Office’s national climate information centre, directly connected the 2017 analysis to global warming, saying: “Our climate is changing, globally and here in the UK. People might not recall 2017 as having been a particularly warm year, with its relatively wet summer and snowfall in December. Despite this, when looking at the longer-term perspective, last year was still more than one degree above the 1961-1990 baseline.”

Jonathan Bartley, Co-leader of the Green Party, has described the news as a “final wake-up call” for the UK Government. “With nine of the ten hottest UK years on record occurring since 2002, history will ask why this government didn't show leadership in the face of the overwhelming evidence of climate breakdown,” he continued. “Despite knowing we are set to miss climate targets, the government has pushed fracking, approved airport expansion and pulled the rug from under renewable energy. This recklessness is a total abdication of responsibility and it’s time the government matched its green rhetoric with meaningful action.”

Mary Creagh, Chair of Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, which holds the UK government to account on its environmental policies and commitments, concurred, stating: “Climate change is real – our country has warmed by nearly 0.8 degrees and our seas have risen by 16 centimetres. That will have profound impacts on everyone and we need to take steps now to help our children cope with the extreme changes and challenges that lie ahead in a world that is warmer by 1.5 degrees Celsius.”