Met Office report lays bare impact of climate change

A close up image of dry earth with cracks in the soil

The Met Office’s recently published report indicates that 2022 was a record-breaking year for rising temperatures in the UK.

While the UK has warmed at a broadly consistent rate, temperature extremes are changing much faster than the average temperature.

The previous year was the warmest year on record since the Met Office started collecting the data in 1884 and was the first year to record a UK annual mean temperature above 10°C.

It was also the warmest year for UK near-coast sea-surface temperature in a series from 1870.

A new all-time temperature record of 40.3°C was set on 19 July – the first year in the UK when 40°C was recorded. This period also saw the UK’s highest daily minimum temperature on record, at 26.8°C

‘Especially concerning’

NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw described climate change as “one of the biggest threats to food production”, and that it was “especially concerning to see this new Met Office report highlight that extremes of temperature are changing much faster than the average”.

“These can have significant consequences for many farm types, from horticulture and arable through to dairy and livestock, with impacts on crop and grass yields and animal welfare.”

In a medium GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions scenario, by 2060 a year like 2022 would be considered an average year, by 2100 it would be considered a ‘cool’ year.

Rainfall was considerably down, with the period between January to August the driest across England and Wales since 1976. Parts of the southern areas of the UK were effectively dry for the whole of July.

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“Climate change is one of the biggest threats to food production and farmers in the UK and around the world are on the front line of this.”

NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw

Other key highlights from the report include:

  • Five of the 10 wettest years for the UK in a series from 1836 have occurred in the 21st century so far.
  • 2022 was one of the least snowy years on record when compared to the last sixty years, and the equal sixth sunniest year in the UK series from 1919
  • Since the 1900s, the sea level around the UK has risen by around 18.5cm, with roughly 11.4cm of that over the last 30 years (1993-2022).
  • The leaf-on season was 7-16 days longer than the baseline due to extended spring and autumn seasons.

Read the Met Office report in full.

More ambitious government plans needed

The NFU’s Deputy President called on the government to put forward a “more ambitious” plan, in order to “to build the resilience and confidence of our UK farmers to encourage them to invest for the future and secure the production of high-quality, sustainable, home-grown food”.

“This means helping farmers adapt to an uncertain climatic future through harmonised government policy that puts food security at the top of the agenda.”

Read the Met Office State of the UK Climate 2022 report


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