Record breaking 2022 indicative of future UK climate
POSTED ON July 28, 2023 BY James Garry
Met Office studies found both the record warm year and July heatwave were made more likely by human induced climate change
2022 was a record-breaking year for weather and is a sign of the UK’s changing climate.
The latest Met Office ‘State of the UK Climate’ report has been published, examining the weather of 2022 in the context of long-term climate records.
The report highlights how the UK’s climate continues to change, with recent decades warmer, wetter and sunnier than the 20th century.
Although the UK has warmed at a broadly consistent rate compared to the observed change in global mean temperature, observations show that in the UK temperature extremes are changing much faster than the average temperature.
A new all-time temperature record of 40.3°C was set on 19 July during an unprecedented heatwave, exceeding the previous record by a wide margin and smashing records for many long-running stations.
Not only was 2022 the first year in the UK when 40°C was recorded, it was also the warmest year in records back to 1884. The world’s longest running instrumental temperature series dating back to 1659, the Central England Temperature (CET) record, also recorded its hottest year on record.
Met Office studies found both the record warm year and July heatwave were made more likely by human induced climate change.
A key feature of 2022 was the persistent warmth throughout the year. All months of the year except December were warmer than the 1991-2020 average. The graph below of UK average daily maximum temperature clearly shows how many more days in the year were above average than below average. The unprecedented July heatwave stands out, as does the cold spell in December as the only significant cold spell of the year.
The ten-year period 2013-2022, representing a ‘snapshot’ of the UK’s current climate, is also the warmest ten-year period in both the UK series from 1884 and CET series from 1659.
The report also puts the UK’s observed climate into future context, using the Met Office UKCP18 climate projections. In a medium emissions scenario (RCP4.5), by 2060 a year like 2022 would be considered an average year, by 2100 it would be considered a ‘cool’ year.