Met Office Climate Change Report
Originally published by Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats
The Met Office has today, issued a Report showing that the UK's climate has continued to warm, with 2020 the first year to have temperature, rain and sunshine rankings all in the top 10.
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.
2020 was the first year that the annual values for rainfall, temperature and sunshine were all in the top ten in the same year. 2020 was third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest on record for the UK.
Lead author and Senior Climate Scientist at the Met Office, Mike Kendon, said: "2020 was another notable year for the UK climate, with records broken for daily rainfall and monthly sunshine hours. Average temperatures for the UK continue to climb, with nearly a degree of warming when comparing the most recent 30 years with the preceding 30-year period. Last year saw some significant weather extremes including severe flooding from heavy rainfall in February and a major heatwave in early August."
Storms Ciara and Dennis, hitting the UK only one week apart, were part of the UK's wettest February on record, and brought devastating flooding affecting many homes and businesses. Most of the UK received more than twice the February long-term average rainfall, with 300% quite widely in the north and west, and over 400% in parts of the Pennines.
The UK has had its wettest February in 2020, December in 2015, April and June in 2012 and November in 2009 - five out of 12 months - in little over a decade.
It was a dry and exceptionally sunny spring in 2020, especially across the southern half of the UK with over 150% of normal sunshine across England and Wales. The UK recorded 626 hours, 144% of the 1981-2010 long-term average. This was the UK's sunniest spring on record by a very wide margin, and remarkably also sunnier than all but three summers in UK sunshine series from 1919. May 2020 was England's driest calendar month since August 1995, with the dry weather making conditions difficult for farmers and growers.
Other notable weather extremes from 2020 include 8 further named storms (in addition to Ciara and Dennis), the UK's third warmest day on record with 37.8°C recorded at Heathrow on 31 July, the southern England heatwave in August, extreme rain fall in Norfolk on 16th August and exceptionally heavy widespread rainfall on 3 October making this the UK's wettest day on record.