Britain has become hotter, wetter and sunnier this century due to climate change, an annual report by leading meteorologists said on Thursday, prompting warnings of record summer temperatures in decades to come.
The study – State of the UK Climate 2020 – found that last year was the third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest on record in the UK.
It was the first time that a single 12-month period had made it into the top 10 for all three variables.
The trend has already led to increasingly extreme weather conditions, with UK temperatures rising “slightly above” the global average, according to the report.
Lead author Mike Kendon, of the National Climate Information Center (NCIC), said it was “plausible” that the country could regularly reach summer temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Farenheit) by 2040, even with climate change mitigation policies.
The highest temperature on record in the UK is 38.7 ° C, set in July 2019.
“We are already seeing climate impacts globally and in the UK from our changing climate and clearly these are expected to continue,” Kendon told BBC radio.
“We are already locked into climate change for a long period of time in the future. “
The report found that 2020 was the UK’s third hottest year since records dating back to 1884, with the 10 hottest occurring in the past two decades.
The decade since 2011 has been on average 0.5 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1981-2010 average and 1.1 degrees warmer than 1961-1990.
Along with rising temperatures, Britain has been on average six percent wetter over the past three decades than the previous 30 years.
Six of the 10 wettest years since 1862 have occurred since 1998.
Just last week, flash floods in London and south-eastern England followed a scorching mini-heat wave when temperatures rose above 30C.
The Met Office also issued its first ever “extreme heat” warning earlier this month.
Professor Liz Bentley, chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society – which publishes the annual report in its International Journal of Climatology – painted a grim picture of extreme weather conditions in the future.
“These (heat waves) are just going to get a lot more intense – we’re probably going to see 40 degrees in the UK,” she said.
“As we hit 1.5 degrees of global warming, it won’t just become something we see once or twice, it will start to become something we see a lot more regularly. “
© 2021 AFP