At about this time each year the UK’s Met Office publishes their “State of the UK Climate” report. This consists of an updated analysis of the entire record they have. This time it is a bit different. Not only have they added one more year of data, but they have also extended it backwards by another 26 years. The richer dataset is via ongoing projects to digitise historic weather records.
Various media outlets were reporting the publication of the report on 31st July, but nothing was available, so I reached out to the Met Office asking what was up. Their response was “woops, OK, it is up now”.
I also have one other brief item here towards the end further down. The Met Office have also been asking people to suggest names for storms, and the responses are exactly what you might anticipate … as in … #DontgooutinyourBoatyMcBoatface.
For the news of the latest report the big ticket item that most media outlets went with is this …
Top ten UK’s hottest years all since 2002
That is simply a reflection of the Press Release, because the Met Office promoted that emphases within it.
- Beginning with the hottest, the top ten warmest years in sequence are: 2014; 2006; 2011; 2007; 2017; 2003; 2018; 2004; 2002; and 2005.
- Beginning with the coldest, the top ten coolest years in sequence are: 1892 1888; 1885; 1963; 1919; 1886; 1917; 1909; 1887; and 1962
They also have the specific details of that graphically illustrated quite nicely …
Dr Mark McCarthy, the head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre. Commented upon this new report as follows:
“Looking back further into the UK’s weather reveals a very interesting timeline with the top ten 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.
“Notably, 1892 is the coldest year in the series, when the average temperature was just over seven degrees. By contrast 2014, which was the warmest year in the series, saw an average temperature approaching ten degrees Celsius.”
The press release goes on to list 7 other key findings. I’ll skip that bit and jump into a bit more detail.
State of the UK Climate: Summary
(Side note: For central England they now have records going back to 1659. This Central England Temperature (CET) monthly series, beginning in 1659, is the longest continuous temperature record in the world)
- 2018 was the seventh warmest year for the UK in a series from 1884, and fourth warmest year for Central England in a series from 1659.
- Summer 2018 was the equal‐warmest summer for the UK in a series from 1884, and the warmest in the series for England.
- All the top 10 warmest years for the UK in the series from 1884 have occurred since 2002.
- The most recent decade (2009–2018) has been on average 0.3°C warmer than the 1981–2010 average and 0.9°C warmer than 1961–1990.
- The Central England Temperature series provides evidence that the 21st century so far has overall been warmer than the previous three centuries.
Air and ground frost
- The number of air frosts in 2018 was slightly below average for the year overall. The number of ground frosts was equal‐11th lowest in a series from 1961.
- The most recent decade (2009–2018) has had 5% fewer days of air frost and 9% fewer days of ground frost compared to the 1981–2010 average, and both 15% fewer compared to 1961–1990.
Energy demand and growing conditions indices
- Heating degree days in 2018 were below average, and cooling and growing degree days (GDDs) were each third‐highest in series from 1960.
- The most recent decade (2009–2018) has had 4% fewer heating degree days per year on average compared to 1981–2010 and 9% fewer compared to 1961–1990.
- The most recent decade (2009–2018) has had 5% more GDDs (growing degree days) per year on average compared to 1981–2010 and 15% more compared to 1961–1990.
Near‐coast SST (Sea Surface Temperature)
- Year 2018 was the equal‐11th warmest year for UK near‐coastal SST in a series from 1870.
- The most recent decade (2009–2018) has been on average 0.3°C warmer than the 1981–2010 average and 0.6°C warmer than 1961–1990.
- Eight of the 10 warmest years for near‐coast SST for the UK have occurred since 2002.
- Year 2018 rainfall for the UK overall was 92% of the 1981–2010 average and 96% of the 1961–1990 average.
- June 2018 was the driest June for England since 1925.
- Six of the 10 wettest years for the UK in a series from 1862 have occurred since 1998.
- The most recent decade (2009–2018) has been on average 1% wetter than 1981–2010 and 5% wetter than 1961–1990 for the UK overall.
- For the most recent decade (2009–2018) UK summers have been on average 11% wetter than 1981–2010 and 13% wetter than 1961–1990. UK winters have been 5% wetter than 1981–2010 and 12% wetter than 1961–1990.
- From late February to early March the UK experienced the most significant spell of widespread snow since December 2010.
- Year 2018 was a relatively snowy year in the context of the last two decades, but near average compared to the last 60‐ years.
- Widespread and substantial snow events have occurred in 2018, 2013, 2010 and 2009, but their number and severity have generally declined since the 1960s.
- Year 2018 sunshine for the UK overall was 114% of the 1981–2010 average and the third sunniest year in a series from 1929.
- The 3‐month period May–July 2018 was the sunniest 3‐month period for the UK on record.
- The most recent decade (2009–2018) has had for the UK on average 4% more hours of bright sunshine than the 1981–2010 average and 7% more than the 1961–1990 average.
- Winter and spring for the most recent decade (2009–2018) have had for the UK on average 3/9% more sunshine than the 1981–2010 average and 11/14% more than 1961–1990.
- Ten named storms affected the UK in year 2018 (including storms David and Emma, named by Meteo France and the Portuguese Met Service, respectively). The overall number and severity of these storms were not unusual compared to recent decades.
- There are no compelling trends in storminess as determined by maximum gust speeds from the UK wind network over the last five decades.
- The UK mean sea level index for 2018 was equal‐highest (with 2015) in the series from 1901, although uncertainties in the series mean caution is needed when comparing individual years.
- Mean sea level around the UK has risen by approximately 1.4 mm/year from the start of the 20th century, when excluding the effect of vertical land movement.
- The 99th percentile water level (exceeded 1% of the time) at Newlyn, Cornwall for year 2018 was the second highest in the series from 1916. Year 2014 was highest in this series.
- A spell of snow and low temperatures from late February to early March 2018 was the most significant severe winter weather to affect the UK since December 2010.
- Summer 2018 was among the most warm, dry and sunny summers experienced by the UK for over 100 years.
- Storm Callum on October 11–12, 2018 was one of the most notable extreme rainfall events across South Wales in the last 50 years.
Tangent: Name That Storm
Moving away from the report, I’m now off on a new topic here to something related that is a bit of fun. The Met Office has reached out to the public asking them to provide names for Storms that they can they use as the storms happen.
Asking the public to suggest names for things is always a success and results in good fine reliable suggestions … right?
(Hint: Check out the Wikipedia Article on “Boaty McBoatface“, and yes, they really did use that name. Then there was also Hooty McOwlface, an owl named through an “Adopt-a-Bird” programme in 2012)
Suggestions offered include …
- Storm Trooper
- Storm Born’ …in memory of Danaerys Targaryen perhaps
- ‘In a Tea Cup’
Personally I’m voting for #StormyMcStormface, and even they are thinking about it …
- UK Met Office Press Release (31st July 2019) : Top ten UK’s hottest years all since 2002
- The full report itself: State of the UK climate 2018 (this is available Open Access within the International Journal of Climatology)
- The HadUK-Grid dataset that is the foundation that the analysis sits upon. Data can be accessed here and more information can be found on the Met Office website.
- This is a collection of gridded climate variables derived from the network of UK land surface observations. What makes this dataset notable is that it spans a long time-series (1862-2017) and is freely available to download