LAST year was provisionally the second warmest on record for the UK since records began in 1884, the Met Office has said.

Only 2022, which saw temperatures exceed 40C for the first time in recorded history, was hotter.

Wales and Northern Ireland had their warmest years, with the Met Office saying climate change has made these benchmarks “significantly more likely”.

Provisional figures show 2023 had an average mean temperature of 9.97C, just behind 2022’s figure of 10.03C and ahead of 2014’s figure of 9.88C.

Last year also ranked the second warmest for the Central England Temperature, the world’s longest instrumental temperature series from 1659.

Met Office senior scientist Mike Kendon said: “The observations of the UK climate are clear. Climate change is influencing UK temperature records over the long term, with 2023 going down as another very warm year and the second warmest on record.

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“Had the 2023 value occurred during the 20th century, it would have been, by far, the warmest year on record.

“While our climate will remain variable, with periods of cold and wet weather, what we have observed over recent decades is a number of high temperature records tumbling.

“We expect this pattern to continue as our climate continues to change in the coming years as a result of human-induced climate change.”

The five warmest years for the UK include 2020, 2022 and 2023 and the top 10 are all in the 21st century.

Last year is almost certain to be confirmed as the hottest year ever recorded globally, with 2024 set to beat that again.

Met Office scientists have calculated that 2023’s average temperature would have been a one-in-500-year event without humans changing the climate through producing greenhouse gases.


The National: The warmest years in the UK on record all occurred in the 21st centuryThe warmest years in the UK on record all occurred in the 21st century (Image: PA Graphics)

This is now a one-in-three-year event and by the end of the century it could be happening almost every year.

Last year saw unusually severe heatwaves in June and September, with the later part of December being unseasonably mild.

There was also more rainfall than usual for much of the country with multiple storms bringing flooding in eastern Scotland and parts of England.

Kendon added: “Climate projections suggest an increase in the frequency of hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters, and we’ve seen a generally warm and wet autumn and start to the 2023/24 winter.

“Overall, this has been another wet year for the UK with 11% more rainfall than average.

“A warmer atmosphere has a greater capacity to hold moisture, so as our climate warms, we expect it to become wetter too and, while there is a large amount of annual variability, that trend is also apparent in the observations.”

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Doug Parr, policy director for Greenpeace UK, said the data showed that the UK needed to ramp up its action on climate change. 

“Climate alarm bells are ringing, following back-to-back hottest years on record, but Sunak has his fingers in his ears," he said.

"There is massive voter support for climate action and you’d think this news would call for an emergency response from the UK Government – a plan to cut temperature-rising emissions further and faster.

"But our Prime Minister’s newest plans consist of ramping up oil and gas drilling in the North Sea and delaying key policies that would slash emissions from cars and housing – or scrapping them altogether.

"Unless Sunak reverses these decisions and delivers the kind of bold policies needed to tackle the climate crisis, his likely short premiership will be marked as one of climate failure.”