Met Office report lays bare impact of climate change

Published 24 September 2021

Climate change and renewables
A flooded farm from the air in West Yorkshire during Storm Dennis, February 2020

The Met Office’s recently published report on the State of the UK Climate 2020 indicates that climate change continues to have a material impact across the UK.

The country’s climate has continued to warm, with 2020 the first year to feature temperature, rain and sunshine rankings all in the top 10.

The NFU climate change team has pulled out some headline figures from the report, given the importance to British farming of understanding changing weather patterns.

Read the report

The Met Office's report, State of the UK Climate 2020, looks at the state of the weather throughout last year and places it in the context of historical data. 

The key messages

Temperature

  • All of the top-ten warmest years for the UK in records back to 1884 have occurred since 2002.
  • The last 30-year period (1991-2020) has been 0.9°C warmer than the preceding 30 years (1961-1990). The greatest warming has been across the East Midlands and East Anglia, where average annual temperatures have increased by more than 1°C.

Rainfall

  • The UK has been on average 6% wetter over the last 30 years (1991-2020) than the preceding 30 years (1961-1990).
  • Six of the 10 wettest years for the UK in a series from 1862 have occurred since 1998.
  • February was the UK’s wettest on record, with most of the country receiving more than twice the February long-term average rainfall.

Sea-level rise

  • 9 of the 10 warmest years in near-coast sea-surface temperatures have occurred since 2002.
  • Sea-level rise has accelerated in the UK over recent years. The rate of sea-level rise has been 1.5mm per year from the start of the 20th century. However, for the period 1993-2019 it has increased to over 3mm per year.

2020 extremes

  • Highest daily maximum temperature: 37.8°C at Heathrow on 31 July.
  • Highest daily minimum temperature: 22.3, Langdon Bay in Kent on 8 August.
  • Highest daily rainfall: 239.9mm at East Wretham, Norfolk on 16 August.
  • Greatest snow depth: 23cm, Copley, County Durham on 23 February.

Related stories and advice

Countryside COP launched ahead of global climate change conference

Volatile weather serves up 'double whammy for farmers'.

Adverse weather, water and flooding toolbox

Advice for members affecting by flooding.

Ask us a question about this page

Once you have submitted your query our NFU CallFirst team will contact you and, if appropriate, your question will be passed on to one of our policy teams.

By completing the form with your details on this page, you are agreeing to have this information sent to the NFU for the purposes of contacting you regarding your enquiry. Please take time to read the NFU’s Privacy Policy if you require further information.