Met Office 'State of the UK Climate 2020' shows UK is warmer, wetter and sunnier than in 20th century

Thu 29 July 2021 View all news

2020 was third warmest, fifth wettest and eight sunniest on record for the UK according to the Meteorological Office's latest annual report. The report says that the UK's climate is changing and that recent decades have been warmer, wetter and sunnier than in the last century.

The latest 'State of the UK Climate' report confirms that 2020 was the first year to fall in the top-10 for all three key variables for the UK.

Preliminary 1991–2020 long term averages show that for the UK the period 1991–2020 has been on average 0.3°C warmer than 1981–2010 and 0.9°C warmer than 1961–1990, with warming across all months and countries. Rainfall has increased by 5% in both winter and summer compared to 1981–2010 and 12%/7% compared to 1961–1990.

All the top 10 warmest years for the UK in the series from 1884 have occurred since 2002. 2020 was the third warmest year for the UK in a series from 1884, and also third warmest for Central England in a series from 1659.

The Central England Temperature series provides evidence that the 21st century so far has overall been warmer than the previous three centuries. The trend for warmer weather has impacted energy demand, with heating degree days in 2020 the fifth lowest on record. The most recent decade (2011–2020) has had 6% fewer heating degree days per year on average compared to 1981–2010 and 12% fewer compared to 1961–1990.

2020 was the eighth sunniest year for the UK in a series from 1919 and also the fifth wettest year in a series dating from 1862, with 116% of the 1981–2010 average and 122% of the 1961–1990 average rainfall. 

Significant UK weather events during 2020 included severe and widespread flooding in February and the most significant heatwave of the last 60 years in southern England with Greater London recording the UK's third warmest day on record (37.8°C).

For more details, see the Met Office report.


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