THE temperature in the UK has risen above 40C for the first time ever.

The record – of 40.2C – was set at London’s Heathrow airport on Tuesday at 12:50pm.

The Met Office issued a warning to be careful in the heat, saying that temperatures were continuing to rise.

The Met Office said that “many sites” across the UK had broken the previous temperature record of 38.7C, set in Cambridge three years ago.

Charlwood, Wisley and Chertsey in Surrey, and Kew Gardens and Northolt in west London were among the places to exceed the 2019 record by early afternoon, with temperatures climbing above 39C.

The Met Office’s chief of science and technology, Professor Stephen Belcher, said he was not expecting to see such highs in his lifetime.

Belcher said studies had shown it was “virtually impossible” for the UK to record such high temperatures in an “undisrupted climate”.

“These extremes will get more extreme in the future,” he warned.

Belcher went on: “In some ways of course 40C is an arbitrary figure because we see the impacts of heatwaves at lower temperatures, but for me it’s a real reminder that the climate has changed and it will continue to change.”

The professor warned that if the world continues under a “high emissions scenario we could see temperatures like this every three years”, and stressed the need for net zero.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps conceded the UK’s transport network cannot cope with the extreme heat and said issues on the rails and roads will continue for decades during such heatwaves.

Congestion levels on city roads and commuter numbers on London public transport services were both down on Tuesday morning, suggesting people were heeding advice not to travel unnecessarily.

Britons have been urged to stay inside during the hottest period of the day, between 11am and 4pm, and wear sun cream and a hat, stay in the shade and keep hydrated with water – and there are warnings about swimming in open water.