The year 2020 ranked third warmest since records began

Published 29 January 2021

Climate change and renewables Environment Net zero
A green field on a bright blue sunny day

We take a look back at 2020, which ranked in the top 10 for mean temperature, rainfall, and sunshine, according to the Met Office.

It was the third warmest year in records dating back to 1884, beaten only by 2014 and 2006, and marginally warmer than 2011.

It was also provisionally the sixth wettest year for the UK in records dating back to 1862, and the eighth sunniest year since 1919. It had the wettest February on record, the sunniest spring, a heatwave in the summer and a day in October breaking rainfall records.

Climate change trends:

  • All top-ten warmest years on record for the UK have occurred since 2002
  • Global figures show that 2020 is in the top three warmest years on record
  • The UK has warmed by close to 1°C, comparable to the global rise in mean temperature.

Met Office scientists say that by looking at the atmosphere of pre-industrial times they can see that the high annual mean temperature of 2020 would have been quite a rare event. But with today’s levels of greenhouse gases they can expect temperatures of this level to occur slightly more frequently than one year in two.

The Met Office has also been researching changes in humidity as humidity governs the increasing likelihood of heavier rainfall and more dangerous heatwaves. You can read more here.

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