Britain has become wetter and warmer as a result of climate change, with the country’s 10 hottest years in more than a century occurring since 2002, a report by leading meteorologists said Thursday.
The annual “State of the UK Climate” report, published in the International Journal of Climatology, said 2020 was the fifth wettest and third-warmest year on record stretching back to the 19th century. Last year’s average winter temperature was 5.3 degrees Celsius (41.5 degrees Fahrenheit), 1.6 degrees Celsius higher than the 1981 to 2010 average.
The summer temperature was 0.4 degrees above average at 14.8 C (58.6 F), with temperatures hitting 34 C (93.2 F) for six consecutive days in August 2020.
The report said summer temperatures in Britain were likely to hit 40 C (104 F) in the coming years, even if the world meets its goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The highest temperature ever recorded in the UK is 38.7 C (101.7 F), registered in Cambridge in July 2019.
Liz Bentley, chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, said the world was already seeing extreme heat as a result of warming of 1.1 to 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
“We’re likely to see 40 Celsius in the UK, although we have never seen those kinds of temperatures (before),” Bentley said. “As we hit 1.5 Celsius of global warming, that’s going to not just become something that we see once or twice, it’ll start to become something that we see on a much more regular basis.”
Met Office climate scientist Mike Kendon, the report’s lead author, said the figures indicated a new normal for the UK, a country famous for its fickle weather.
“In seven out of the last 10 years, we’ve seen temperatures of 34 C in the UK compared to seven out of the previous 50 years before that,” he said. “So this is an indication of the fact that our baseline of our climate is changing, and what we regard as normal is changing.”