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UK’s 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 2002

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry

The UK’s 10 hottest years in records stretching back to the 19th century have all occurred since 2002, the Met Office has said.

Analysis of temperature records extended back to 1884 also reveal none of the 10 coldest years have occurred since 1963, showing how the climate is warming.

The Met Office also confirmed this week that temperatures hit a record high of 38.7C - the hottest day in the UK since records began.

Temperatures have risen by a 1C average since pre-industrial times, and while this not seem like much, it means extreme weather events - such as heatwaves and heavy rainfall - are more likely.

Lidos up and down the country were packed out during the recent heatwave as people tried to cool down. Credit: PA

In the Met Office’s latest annual state of the climate report, the temperature series for the UK has been extended back by 26 years from 1910 to 1884, as the data was added as part of ongoing work to digitise historic weather records.

Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office’s national climate information centre, said: “Looking back further into the UK’s weather reveals a very interesting timeline, with the top 10 warmest years at the most recent end, since 2002.

“Extending the record back by 26 years from 1910 to 1884 didn’t bring in any new warm years, but it did bring in a number of new cold years, including several that are now within the top ten coldest years.”

July saw the hottest day on record in the UK. Credit: PA

The records now show 1892 as the coldest year, with the average temperature of just over 7C, while the warmest year was 2014, with an average temperature approaching 10C, he said.

The top 10 hottest years are (in order): 2014; 2006; 2011; 2007; 2017; 2003; 2018; 2004; 2002; and 2005.

The hottest years have been in recent times. Credit: PA Graphics

The coldest years in the record are: 1892; 1888; 1885; 1963; 1919; 1886; 1917; 1909; 1887; and 1962.

The annual report shows that 2018 joined the top 10 warmest years at number seven, despite the severe “beast from the East” cold snap early in the year.

The cold weather saw the UK having the most significant snowfall since 2010 last year, though generally snow events have declined since the 1960s, the Met Office said.

Despite the beast from the East, 2018 was the seventh warmest year on record. Credit: PA

Tom Clarke's family has farmed land in Cambridgeshire for more than a century and in that time they have felt the impact of climate change.

He told ITV News: "So 125 years ago when my great-grandfather started the farm, they did use to farm by the calendar. Nowadays you don't know what's coming, so as farmers, you are absolutely on the front line of climate change."

"I'm the fourth generation of my family to farm this land, I don't want this land to be underwater," he added.

Tom Clarke does not want the farm, which has been in the family for more than a century, to be underwater. Credit: ITV News

In a year of extremes, the UK also saw a heatwave last summer, which experts said was made 30 times more likely by climate change, and the season was the equal-hottest summer on record along with 2006.

Commenting on the report, which is published in the International Journal of Climatology, Dr Michael Byrne from the University of St Andrews, said it was “hugely significant, though not surprising” the UK’s top 10 warmest years had occurred since 2002 and summer 2018 was the joint-hottest ever.

The warmest year has been 2014, with an average temperature of 10C and the last of the 10 coldest winters was in 1963. Credit: ITV News

He said: “The world has warmed 1C since pre-industrial times, meaning that hot years are the new normal.

“Not only is the UK getting warmer but also wetter, with 13% more summer rain compared to last century.

“With global emissions of greenhouse gases on the rise, the UK will continue to get warmer and wetter as global warming accelerates.

“The science of climate change is now clear. The UK Government must ramp up preparations and ensure that our infrastructure and citizens are prepared for what is to come.”

  • ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke on why summer 2018's heat could become the norm

In response to the report, the Government highlighted that climate change "demands urgent action, which is why we are the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions and eliminate our contribution to global warming by 2050.

“We’ve seen first-hand the effect climate change is having on our environment, and we share people’s passion to tackle this issue and protect our planet for future generations.”

Dr Katherine Kramer, global climate lead at Christian Aid, said the findings were just the “latest alarm bell to go off as we fail to grapple with this growing climate emergency”.

“While these hottest years have made life uncomfortable in parts of the UK, just imagine what it’s like for people in even hotter places in the global south, often forced to work outside without access to air conditioning or even shelter.

“With climate change, the only way we can avoid this becoming the new normal is if we take action and reduce our emissions radically and rapidly,” she said.