UK heatwaves lasting twice as long as 50 years ago – Met Office
Heatwaves in the UK are lasting twice as long as they did 50 years ago, ice days are disappearing and tropical nights are starting to occur as far north as Middlesbrough, according to a Met Office report.
The first study of climate extremes in the UK by the government agency shows the longer-term trend behind this summer’s prolonged spell of high temperatures and the weakening of winter frosts.
In line with numerous other research papers on the rise in global temperatures, it also highlights how weather patterns are being pushed off a normal path as a result of human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
The new report shows that warm spells – when the maximum temperature is above the 90th percentile for the time of year – are becoming much more prolonged. From 1961 to 1990, the average longest warm spell each year was 5.3 days. From 2008 to 2017 this more than doubled to 13.2 days. This year, which is not included in these statistics, was even longer at 17 days.
Tropical nights – when minimum nighttime temperatures remain above 20C – are being measured for the first time. They were almost unheard of until a couple of decades ago. Even the famous hot summer of 1976 never saw any of these nights, which are particularly gruelling for the elderly and infirm because they provide no respite from the heat. Since 1995 they have started to be recorded in London, Kent, the Isle of Wight and even occasionally in Wales and the north-east.