2007 Was Britain's 'Second Warmest Year'

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from BBC NEWS, January 3, 2008

Last year was the second warmest on record in the UK, according to figures released by the Met Office.

The average mean temperature across the UK was 9.6C – slightly cooler than in 2006, but continuing the recent trend towards warmer temperatures.

Since UK-wide records began in 1914, nine of the 10 warmest years have happened since 1989.

2007 was no exception despite a natural weather event known as La Nina, which usually reduces global temperatures.

It was one degree above what you would normally expect for the 30-year period from 1971 to 2000.

Extreme weather

Many people will look back on 2007 as a year of weather extremes. Enormous amounts of rain in May, June and July caused devastating floods but in other months it was drier than usual.

The year was also characterized by relatively warm conditions at night, bringing fewer frosts – 18 days fewer than normal for the UK overall, and warmer sea temperatures.

“To the public it seemed like a very dull and cool year because we didn’t get a heat wave,” said Met office climate scientist Dr Matt Huddleston.

“But the warm night temperatures and the lack of frosts mean on average it was a very warm year.”

Global trend

The UK’s top 10 warmest years on record (in order) are 2006, 2007, 2003, 2004, 2002, 2005, 1990, 1997, 1949 and 1999.

Globally, there is a similar trend – the top 10 being 1998, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2001, 1997 and 1995.

“Nine of the 10 warmest years have happened since 1989,” said Dr Huddleston.

“There is an inexorable rise in temperature that is small compared to daily weather changes,” he added. “There is much greater certainty that this is because of manmade pollution.”

The Met Office originally predicted that 2007 could be the warmest on record globally. The year began with a weak El Nino, a Pacific Ocean phenomenon that normally raises temperatures.

But since the end of April 2007, its cooler relation, the La Nina, has prevailed, taking some of the heat out of what could have been an even warmer year.

2008 is expected to be another warm year with global temperatures forecast to be 0.37C above the long-term average.