UK weather: Climate change contributed to hottest June on record, Met Office says

Last month was the hottest June on record, ITV News Reporter Rhys Williams and Health & Science Correspondent Martin Stew look at the devastating impacts

Climate change has contributed to June being the hottest on record in the UK since records began in 1884.

Provisional Met Office figures found a mean temperature of 15.8C for all of June, 0.9C higher than the previous record.

The record was also beaten in all four individual UK nations.

Eight of the twelve calendar months now have an average temperature record set since 2006 in a series which dates back to 1884.

The highest June temperature was also breached, with a temperature of 32.2C recorded in Coninsby, Lincolnshire.

The June of 1940 and 1976 both recorded mean temperatures of 14.9C, but the Met Office said the chance of beating the previous record had doubled in the last 80 years, partially due to climate change.

Mark Owen, head of fisheries at Angling Trust, warned the hot weather had already killed thousands of fish across the country. Mr Owen said: “Where I was this morning on a canal near Birmingham, fish were caught up against a lock and you saw hundreds of seagulls picking up the dead fish, the stench was really quite amazing. “If July is like June, if August is like June, then we will get far more fish kills than we’ve ever seen. There is a knock-on effect. “The fish are the visible bit because that’s what people see floating on the surface but it is also (about) what is happening to the ecosystem.”

Analysis by ITV News Weather Reporter Lucy Verasamy

This June was notable - the hottest since records began in 1884 - and by quite a leap as far as stats were concerned. The previous hottest joint June on record was in 1940 and 1976.What does a 50/50 chance of a record-breaking June after 2050 mean for the prospect of future summer heatwaves?

It means increased frequency of record-breaking heat in June - but there's not necessarily a pattern for this to happen. 

Is the Met Office directly linking climate change to higher June temperatures significant?

It backs up the predictions of climate change. The chance of a record breaking hot June has doubled since the 1940s - and given this latest Met Office study, the frequency of such conditions will continue to accelerate. 

It's worth noting that the study takes into account temperatures from 1991-2020, so does not include the extreme, exceptional, never-before-seen-before heat of last summer. 

Paul Davies, Met Office Climate Extremes Principal Fellow and Chief Meteorologist, said: "Alongside natural variability, the background warming of the Earth’s atmosphere due to human-induced climate change has driven up the possibility of reaching record high temperatures."

He said by 2050 there would be a 50% chance of beating 14.9C every other year.At a local level, 72 counties recorded their hottest June on record, with some more than 2.5C above average.

It was also the fourth sunniest June on record, and the sunniest since 1957 and rainfall was 32% below average.

The mean temperature levels in June. Credit: Met Office

The high temperatures and below-average rainfall has led to the government stepping up drought planning.

The National Drought Group met at the end of June to plan a coordinated response.

Much of the UK and Ireland remains in a state of drought warning from last year, with hose pipe bans in place in the South East and South West.

The high temperatures also impacted the UK's waters, with an "unprecedented" amount of damage caused to British fisheries.

John Ellis of the Canal and River Trust told the BBC’s Today programme: "It’s been an unprecedented month.

"We’ve had more than 60 fish mortality incidents on 21 different canals up and down the UK, and to put that into perspective, a typical year, we may see half a dozen incidents."

Mr Ellis said when water temperatures increase oxygen levels decrease.

At the same time, cold-blooded fish also need more oxygen to keep themselves cool.

The North Atlantic has also experienced record-breaking temperatures in June, with temperatures up to 1.5C higher than normal.

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