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2011 Expected to be Second Warmest Year on Record for the UK

Posted on 9 January 2012 by John Hartz

This is a reprint of a news release posted (Dec 30, 2011) on the website of the UK's Met Office. 

Provisional figures from the Met Office reveal temperatures this December have been close to average, but 2011 overall is the second warmest year on record for the UK.

The mean temperature so far this December has been 4.7 °C, 0.5 °C above the 1971-2000 average. This is a big swing from 2010, when temperatures were 5 °C below average to notch up the coldest December on record.

John Prior, National Climate Manager at the Met Office, said: "While it may have felt mild for many so far this December, temperatures overall have been close to what we would expect.

"It may be that the stark change from last year, which was the coldest December on record for the UK, has led many to think it has been unseasonably warm."

Provisional Dec 2011Mean temperature (deg C)Sunshine durationPrecipitation
  Actual Difference from normal (71-00) Actual (hours) Percentage of normal (71-00) (%) Actual (mm) Percentage of normal (71-00) (%)
UK 4.7 0.5 40.6 106 146.4 117
England 5.5 0.8 52.5 118 89.3 99
Wales 5.8 1.0 28.0 73 194.7 112
Scotland 3.0 -0.1 26.7 92 230.9 136
Northern Ireland 4.7 0.0 26.6 78 132.3 112

The trend of marked differences from one year to the next continues with the annual figures for 2011 - which show the year is expected to be the second warmest on record for the UK.

Up to 28 December, 2011 currently has an average temperature of 9.62 °C. This is a big change from 2010, which was the 12th coldest year on record with 7.97 °C.

However, this year marks a return to a trend of warmer than average annual temperatures - all the UK's top seven warmest years happened in the last decade, with 2006 leading the list with 9.73 °C.

2011 saw some UK records broken too. It was the warmest April and Spring on record, and the second warmest Autumn on record.

The highest single-day temperature for October was also broken - with Gravesend in Kent notching up 29.9 °C on 1 October, beating the previous record of 29.4 °C at March in Cambridgeshire on 1 October 1985.

The top temperature in 2011 was 33.1 °C on 27 June at Gravesend in Kent - which was the warmest temperature recorded in the UK for five years.

There have been some marked variations in rainfall in 2011, with Scotland having its wettest year on record with 1859.5mm of rain (beating the previous record set in 1990). On the other hand, some parts of England have had very low levels of rainfall - East Anglia had its second driest year on record with 449mm of rain and the Midlands its third driest with 586.5mm.

Provisional 2011Mean temperature (deg C)Sunshine durationPrecipitation
  Actual Difference from normal (71-00) Actual (hours) Percentage of normal (71-00) (%) Actual (mm) Percentage of normal (71-00) (%)
UK 9.62 1.03 1416.3 105 1157.6 102.8
England 10.55 1.18 1563.9 107 707.4 84.3
Wales 9.89 0.99 1465.5 106 1272.6 88.6
Scotland 8.04 0.85 1182.6 100 1859.5 122.2
Northern Ireland 9.34 0.66 1274.8 103 1237.9 111.3

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Comments 1 to 9:

  1. I like your tables - measuring actual as a percentage of a 30 year norm. Very clear.
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  2. Should we be reporting this, interesting as it is, when we keep saying (correctly) that it's about global temperatures? I understand that the context is about UK temperatures being used by Deniers, but maybe that should be how the article is written?
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  3. As Dave123 says, focusing on one year can be misleading, but "all the UK's top seven warmest years happened in the last decade" is an important message to emphasise. Also the apparent variation in the weather seems important - is this measurably unusual? Uncertainty is the greatest concern, the UK weather seems to be demonstrating uncertainty in spades. But then maybe it always has.
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  4. Scotland's wettest year on record... as a Scot I can say that takes some doing! Of course it's in line with the expected rise in precipitation as the world warms, and observations of (much more damaging) flooding in many parts of the world. I saw recently a graphic by Jeff Masters showing Decembers of the past six years have had the two most extreme positive and two most extreme negative Arctic Oscillation indices on record. This has significant consequences for UK weather, as seen in the past two winters. I wonder if such dramatic AO variation will be a feature of the future?
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  5. And the SE of England has been remarkably dry. The low pressure systems seem to have been steared up towards the north end of the island. Still been some great cycling weather even into december down here in England, my folks back up near Glasgow have been less than impressed though.
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  6. Agree 100% with dorlomin regarding cycling. I tend to be a fair weather cyclist and it is unusual to see me cycling from December through to February. But this year in the South has been dry and warm, allowing me to cycle more. But personal advantages are outweighed by the real threat of drought this year, due to a lack of rain in the South East/South regions.
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  7. 40 minutes on a motorcycle in to work each morning - you *know* when it's cold. John Prior can say what he likes, this winter has been exceptionally mild in the South West at least!
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  8. One thing that is definitely relevant in this post is the observation that 2010, which was one of the warmest years globally, was one of the coolest in the UK. That should given any reasonable person (whereever they are) pause for thought before they pop their head out the window in order to pronounce on the global climate. You're a bunch of (bi)cycling whimps - I commute-cycle whatever the weather - admittedly this year in East Anglia has been mild - but I did it last year too !
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  9. Daffodils and snowdrops early: The Woodland Trust are looking at climate change and connections with early appearances of native flora.
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