UK is warming at faster rate than global average

Posted on 18 Oct 2013 in

The average annual temperature recorded in the UK has been rising at a faster rate than the global average, according to a new policy brief published today by the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science.

The policy brief by Bob Ward and Naomi Hicks on ‘Recent and future changes in the global and UK climate’ presents an analysis of Met Office records which shows that the linear warming rate of UK annual mean temperature was 0.18°C per decade between 1950 and 2012. This compares with a rise of 0.12°C per decade in the global mean surface temperature since 1950, which was highlighted last month in a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The authors also point out that the seven warmest years in the UK since records began in 1910 have all occurred from 2000 onwards. Overall the UK average annual temperature increased by about 0.59°C between 1910-1939 and 1983-2012.

The policy brief indicates that UK annual rainfall has been increasing since about 1970, with 6 of the 10 wettest years on record all occurring within the last 15 years. There was flooding in many parts of the UK during 2012, which was the second wettest year on record

The IPCC report noted that it was likely that the frequency or intensity of heavy rainfall have increased in large parts of Europe. Earlier this year, the Met Office announced that a study of the long-term averages of 30-year periods showed an increase in annual UK rainfall of about 5 per cent between 1961-1990 and 1981-2010. A preliminary analysis by the Met Office also concluded that 1-in-100-day extreme rainfall events may have become more frequent since 1960.

The IPCC report concluded that global sea level has already risen by 19 centimetres since 1901, and is currently rising by about 3.2 millimetres per year. However, the policy brief warns that even greater sea level rise could be experienced locally along the south-east coast of England because it is sinking at a rate of about 1.5 millimetres per year as a result of land adjustments still occurring in response to the retreat of ice sheets at the end of the last Ice Age.

Notes for Editors