UK saw second-warmest year on record in 2023, says Met Office

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain experienced its second-warmest year on record in 2023, the Met Office national weather service said on Tuesday, pointing to the growing impact of human-induced climate change on the country’s average temperatures.

Provisional figures from the Met Office showed last year’s mean temperature of 9.97 degrees Celsius fell just below 2022’s 10.03 C but was ahead of 2014’s 9.88 C. The records date back to 1884.

The UK’s 10 warmest years have all occurred in the 21st century and more temperature records are set to be broken in coming years, the weather forecaster said.

Hotter temperatures could heighten the risk of drought and wildfires, intense rainfall and flooding, potentially harming ecosystems, human health and infrastructure like airport runways and railway tracks.

“While our climate will remain variable, with periods of cold and wet weather, what we have observed over recent decades is a number of high temperature records tumbling,” Met Office Senior Scientist Mike Kendon said.

That pattern was expected to continue “in the coming years as a result of human-induced climate change.”

Climate warming in the UK comes amid global temperature records that were likely broken last year. In October, the EU climate service said 2023 was on track to be the world’s hottest year since at least 1940.

Despite agreement reached at the COP28 summit last month in Dubai for the world to transition away from fossil fuels, scientists say it isn’t enough to limit global warming below a 1.5 C benchmark target.

A sustained rise beyond that target would trigger catastrophic and irreversible impacts, from melting ice sheets to the collapse of ocean currents, scientists say.

In the UK, heatwaves in June and September, as well as above-average temperatures for eight out of 12 months last year contributed to the record, the Met Office said.

Wales and Northern Ireland had their warmest years on record last year, it added.

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; editing by William James and Bernadette Baum)