UK records fifth hottest year in 2017

The Met Office has confirmed today that 2017 was the fifth warmest year on UK records, with the country increasingly facing higher temperatures and rainfall.

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The data shows that nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2002, and that all have taken place since 1990, with the 21st century hotter than the previous three.

At the same time, it was found that average rainfall has been 8% higher over the last decade than it was between 1961 and 1990, with summers around 20% wetter.

The findings also show that average sea levels around the UK have risen at a rate of approximately 1.4mm per year since the start of the 20th century, equivalent to an increase of about 16cm.

“Our climate is changing, globally and here in the UK,” said the Met Office’s Dr Mark McCarthy. “People may not recall 2017 as having been a particularly warm year, with a relatively wet summer and snow in December.

“Despite this, when looking at the longer-term perspective, 2017 was still more than 1˚C warmer than our 1961-1990 baseline, and ranks fifth warmest year overall for the UK.”

The records, which date back to 1910, show that average temperatures over the last decade have been 0.8˚C warmer than between 1961 and 1990, and that Britain has had 6% more sunshine.

This comes after the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) last week forecast approximately 7000 heat-related deaths every year in the UK by 2050 without government action.

That is more than treble the 2,000 deaths recorded in 2003 as a result of higher temperatures, with the cross-party group of MPs describing adaptation as “a matter of life and death”.

They set out a series of resilience measures for the NHS, businesses, schools and transport in preparation for more frequent heatwaves, with temperatures of 38.5˚C predicted to be the new “summer norm” by 2040.

“Heatwaves cause premature deaths from cardiac, kidney and respiratory disease,” EAC chair, Mary Creagh, said. “Warnings are welcomed as barbecue alerts, but they threaten health, wellbeing and productivity.

“The government needs to do more to warn the public of the health risks of heatwaves, particularly when they fall outside of the summer period, and should appoint a minister to lead work across government.” 
 

Image credit: iStock

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