British experts on Wednesday said 2022 was set to be the UK’s warmest on record after a year of heatwaves and minimal rainfall.
The findings come as communities across the globe reel from a catalogue of extreme weather this year including soaring temperatures and drought across Europe that saw crops wither and forest fires ravage swathes of land.
This year had the “highest annual average temperature across the UK, exceeding the previous record set in 2014 when the average was 9.88 degrees Celsius (49.78 degrees Fahrenheit)”, the Met Office, the UK’s meteorological authority, said in a statement.
Since 1884 in the UK, each of the 10 years recording the highest annual temperature have occurred from 2002, according to the forecasting body.
“2022 is going to be the warmest year on record for the UK. While many will remember the summer’s extreme heat, what has been noteworthy this year has been the relatively consistent heat through the year,” said Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre.
Every month except December had been warmer than average, he said.
“The warm year is in line with the genuine impacts we expect as a result of human-induced climate change.
“Although it doesn’t mean every year will be the warmest on record, climate change continues to increase the chances of increasingly warm years over the coming decades,” he added.
Most of England and Wales experienced drought this summer after exceptionally high temperatures and heatwaves as well as little rainfall.
Similar conditions were seen across northwest Europe.
France also experienced the hottest year since records began, the country’s national weather service said in November.
– Records smashed –
In July, England also smashed its all-time temperature record when the mercury topped 40 degrees Celsius for the first time ever, while July was the driest on record across the south.
The parched conditions notably saw the source of the River Thames drying up and shifting several miles downstream.
Satellite imagery showed the nation’s traditionally green and lush countryside turning to various shades of yellow and brown, as huge swathes of southern, central and eastern England dried out.
The Met Office said all four of the UK’s seasons in 2022 were in the top 10 warmest on record.
Winter was the eighth hottest, spring the fifth, summer the fourth and autumn the third.
McCarthy said temperatures had been above the 1991-2020 long term average for a large proportion of the year, adding that this “is something that we can anticipate as we become increasingly affected by climate change”.
“Met Office science has shown that the temperatures witnessed in mid-July would have been extremely unlikely in the pre-industrial period – the era before humanity started emitting lots of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels,” he said.
– Wrong sort of record –
Climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that carbon emissions from humans burning fossil fuels are heating the planet, raising the risk and severity of droughts, heatwaves, and other extreme weather events.
Analysis by an international team of researchers released in July found climate change caused by human activity made this year’s UK heatwave at least 10 times more likely to occur.
Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said the findings were disappointing.
“These aren’t the kind of records you want to be breaking,” she said.
“I’m sure most of us would rather see record-breaking investment in the renewable technologies that’ll get us out of this mess,” she added.
Britain’s National Trust earlier on Wednesday said nature and wildlife at the charity’s sites had been harmed by extreme weather in the past year and warned it could become the “new normal”.
The final figures for 2022 will be announced by the Met Office at a later date.
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