Confirmed! 2022 was the UK’s hottest year on record, says Met Office
The Met Office has confirmed that 2022 was the UK’s hottest year on record and the first time the average annual temperature has been over 10°C.
An attribution study by the UK’s national weather service has also shown climate change made the record year around 160 times more likely.
2022 was also the year that included a scorching July during which Hawarden recorded the hottest-ever day in Wales.
The year began with a mild theme, as the maximum temperature on New Year’s Day was the warmest on record, with a reading of 16.3C at St James’s Park in London.
This mild theme continued throughout the year, with more days being warmer than average and fewer days being cooler than average.
Temperatures remained above average for every month of 2022, except December which was cooler than average following a prolonged cold snap.
Recorded temperatures reached excess of 40C in the UK for the first time.
Coningsby, Lincolnshire, recorded the highest temperature, with 40.3C exceeding the previous UK record by 1.6C.
The hot period in July saw the Met Office issue its first ever red warning for extreme heat with widespread impacts for the UK.
Wales recorded its hottest day on record with the temperature reaching 37.1C in Hawarden on July 18.
1600 UPDATE: Hawarden in Flintshire has now provisionally reached 37.1°C
🌡️ This is the highest air temperature ever recorded in #Wales #Heatwave2022 #heatwave #hottestdayoftheyear pic.twitter.com/QjkVL9YYrV
— Met Office (@metoffice) July 18, 2022
Met Office Climate Attribution Scientist, Dr Nikos Christidis, said: “To assess the impact of human induced climate change on the record-breaking year of 2022, we used climate models to compare the likelihood of a UK mean temperature of 10°C in both the current climate and with historical human climate influences removed.”
“The results showed that recording 10°C in a natural climate would occur around once every 500 years, whereas in our current climate it could be as frequently as once every three to four years.”
“We also used climate models to project how often this sort of temperature could be recorded in the future.”
“It was possible to calculate that by the end of the century, under a medium emissions scenario (SSP2-4.5), a UK average temperature of 10°C could occur almost every year.”
In addition, 2022 was also the warmest year on record in the 364-year Central England Temperature (CET) series from 1659, the world’s longest instrumental record of temperature.
The annual mean CET for 2022 was 11.1°C, only the second time it has recorded 11°C or higher in its history with 2014 recording 11°C.
Every nation in the UK recorded a record breaking annual mean temperature in 2022:
Head of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre, Dr Mark McCarthy, said: “Although an arbitrary number, the UK surpassing an annual average temperature of 10°C is a notable moment in our climatological history.”
“This moment comes as no surprise, since 1884 all the ten years recording the highest annual temperature have occurred from 2003. It is clear from the observational record that human induced global warming is already impacting the UK’s climate.”
Hot and cold records
The Met Office has said evidence of the UK’s changing climate can also be seen in the distribution of hot and cold annual records.
Since 1884, all the ten warmest years have occurred from 2003.
In the same timespan we’ve not recorded a top ten coldest year in 60 years (1963 ranks as the fourth coldest year in the series), and most of the top 10 coldest years are clustered before 1920 as shown in the graph below.
Dr McCarthy explains: “Even with the influence of climate change we don’t expect every year to be the hottest on record from now on.”
“Natural variability of the UK climate means there will always be some variation year to year, however looking at longer term trends it is easy to pick out the influence climate change is having over time.”
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