Met Office report lays bare impact of climate change

09 August 2022

Climate change and renewables
Flooded fields

The Met Office’s recently published report on the State of the UK Climate 2021 indicates that climate change continues to have a material impact across the UK. The NFU climate change team has pulled out some headline information, given the importance to British farming of understanding changing weather patterns.

The report details notable weather events from 2021, putting them into the context of the UK’s climate. Events such as Storm Arwen in November, Storm Darcy in February, a new Northern Ireland temperature record in July and exceptional rain in October all get reviewed.

The key messages

All the UK's top 10 warmest years in the time series from 1884 have occurred this century. Whilst 2021 would be considered near normal compared to the last three decades, before 1990 a year like this would be the second warmest in the series.

In 2021 UK temperatures and sunshine were near to the 1991 – 2020 average with rainfall slightly below.

Sea level

Since the 1900s sea level has risen around the UK by around 16.5cm.

While the rate of increase was 1.5mm per year since the 1900s, over the past 30 years the rates of increase have risen to 3.0-5.2mm each year depending on location around the UK.

As the sea level rises around the UK it exposes more areas of coastal land to larger and more frequent storm surges and wind driven wave impacts. 

Phenology

First leaf dates in the UK were impacted by a cold April.

The average April Central England Temperature (CET) was lower than that in March; a phenomenon which has only occurred 15 times in the 363 years of the CET series. Species that normally leaf earlier in the season (such as Elder) were even earlier, whereas those that normally leaf later in the spring were delayed; for example Oak first leaf dates were delayed by nearly four days.

Weather related delays in the natural timing of these events can have further impacts on interactions with other species later in season.

A warm October meant the average bare tree date was delayed across all monitored species.

Importance of climate monitoring

Prof Liz Bentley, Chief Executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, said: “This report is the authoritative annual summary of the UK climate published as a special supplement in our International Journal of Climatology. It not only helps to highlight the latest knowledge on our changing climate but also enables us to understand the trends, risks and impacts to help inform how we will need to adapt, now and in the future.

“This important report published in an international, peer-reviewed journal, available in over 8,600 academic and research organisations, will ensure a permanent record and support other scientific studies. It is also increasingly important to use this report to help update government, businesses, and the broader public about the reality of the changes in our climate and the impacts.”

Read the full report

The Met Office's report, State of the UK Climate 2021, looks at the state of the weather throughout last year and places it in the context of historical data. 

Read more on NFUonline

Climate change

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