Met Office confirms 2022 as hottest year ever

A woman with an umbrella for protection from the sun at Blackheath Common, 11 July 2022

A woman with an umbrella for protection from the sun at Blackheath Common, 11 July 2022

The Met Office has confirmed that last year was the warmest on record in the UK.

The national weather service said in 2022 the average annual temperature was above 10C for the first time.

The average temperature for 12 months was 10.03C – surpassing an all-time high of 9.88C in 2014.

This means that 15 of the UK’s 20 hottest years on record have occurred in this century – all of the top 10 in the past two decades.

Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office’s National Center for Climate Information, said: “Although this is an arbitrary number, the fact that the UK’s average annual temperature exceeds 10C is a remarkable moment in our climatological history.

“This moment is no surprise, all 10 years of the highest annual temperature recorded since 1884 occurred in 2003.

“It is clear from the observational record that human-caused global warming is already affecting the UK’s climate.”

All four countries set heat records in 2022; England sees the highest average temperature of 10.94C, followed by Wales (10.23C), Northern Ireland (9.85C) and Scotland (8.50C).

A heatwave spell in June 2022 saw the UK experience its fourth hottest summer on record, with temperatures crossing the 40C mark for the first time, prompting the Met Office to issue its first red warning for extreme heat.

The 40.3C record was set on 19 July at Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

The hot summer and months of low rainfall have dried up rivers, damaged crops and fueled wildfires, and an official drought has been declared in much of England.

Firefighters contained a bushfire that engulfed nearby homes in Sheffield's Shiregreen area on July 20, 2022.

A firefighter tries to contain a bushfire that swept homes near Sheffield in July 2022.

The Met Office said that in a natural climate, a temperature of 10C can be expected in the UK on average every 500 years before people start producing the emissions responsible for climate change through activities such as burning fossil fuels.

But that could now happen every three to four years, he said.

Chart showing the average annual temperature in the UK

Chart showing the average annual temperature in the UK

A recent report on extreme climate events in the UK revealed that recent years have witnessed both higher maximum temperatures and longer warm periods.

This trend is expected to continue. By 2100 the UK is likely to see 40C days every three to four years.

At this point, the Met Office said that with moderate greenhouse gas emissions, an average temperature of 10C could occur almost every year.

UK temperature map

UK temperature map

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