Climate change pushes UK to hottest June on record

Britain's mean temperature last month was 15.8°C - 2.5°C higher than average

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all recorded their warmest Junes since 1884. PA
Powered by automated translation

Britain recorded its hottest June on record last month, with experts saying climate change was a factor.

The mean average temperature of 15.8°C was the highest since 1884, Met Office figures showed on Monday.

That smashed the previous record by 0.9°C, and the previous top three Junes were separated by only 0.1°C.

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all individually recorded their warmest June since records began in 1884.

Spurred on by a mid-month heatwave, the UK’s mean temperature for June 2023 was 2.5°C higher than average.

The Met Office’s Mark McCarthy said: “It’s officially the hottest June on record for the UK, for mean temperature as well as average maximum and minimum temperature.

“June started with a good deal of high pressure and temperatures initially around average for many. But once that subsided, warm, humid air began to influence temperatures, with 32.2°C the highest temperatures reached.

“What’s striking is the persistent warmth for much of the month, with temperatures widely into the mid 20s Celsius for many and even into the low 30s at times.”

Eight of the 12 calendar months now have an average temperature record set since 2006 in a series which dates back to 1884.

And 72 counties in the Met Office system also recorded their hottest June on record, with many recording mean temperature of more than 2.5°C above average.

Counties recording their warmest June on record included Orkney, Warwickshire, Surrey, Somerset and Cornwall.

Met Office scientists have found the chance of June beating the previous record of 14.9°C, as has happened this year, has at least doubled since 1940. The previous record of 14.9°C was recorded in 1940 and 1976.

Paul Davies, Met Office chief meteorologist, said: “Alongside natural variability, the background warming of the Earth’s atmosphere due to human induced climate change has driven up the possibility of reaching record high temperatures.

“Using our climate projections, we can also see that there is a difference in the frequency of these sort of extremes depending on the emissions scenario we follow in the future.

“By the 2050s the chance of surpassing the previous record of 14.9°C could be as high as around 50 per cent, or every other year.”

The North Atlantic, including waters around the UK, has also experienced record-breaking temperatures in June. These have played an underlying role in the land-based temperature figures for the UK.

Mel Evans, Greenpeace UK's head of climate, said: “If the heatwaves, droughts and wildfires raging around the world aren't enough to shake [British Prime Minister Rishi] Sunak out of his complacency, people will be wondering what on earth will.

“We can't tackle this huge threat without a massive government effort to fix our energy-wasting homes, turbocharge renewables, upgrade our power grid and clean up our transport sector. All of this needs a prime minister leading from the front, but Sunak is skulking somewhere in the rear.”

As temperatures climbed, they created long periods of sunshine for many, with the UK recording its sunniest June since 1957 and its fourth sunniest on record.

Rainfall was in short supply for much of June, though totals did climb in the second half of the month. The UK had only 68 per cent of its average rainfall for the month, with 52.2mm.

“Toppling temperature records are a reminder if one were needed of the growing impact of the changing climate,” said Peter Chalkley, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

“Last year's heatwaves, topping out at 40.3°C, hit British crops and contributed to drought that is still lingering in parts of the country.”

Updated: July 03, 2023, 2:55 PM