Increasing temperatures and rising sea levels are just two symptoms of the complex climatic changes that have been apparent in the UK over recent decades.
The graph above shows annual mean temperature for the UK, expressed as anomalies relative to the 1961–1990 average. The blue line is a smoothed trend, which is roughly equivalent to a 10-year running mean. The UK has experienced significant warming, with a mean annual temperature in the most recent decade (2008–2017) nearly 1°C warmer than the 1961–1990 average. These trends are apparent in all countries, and across all seasons, with spring warming being the most pronounced (1.1°C warming). There has been a reduction in the number of days of ground frost and an increase in the number of growing days. There has also been an increase in the amount of sunshine by 6% from 1961–1990 to 2008–20173. Rainfall shows more variability between years, making trends more difficult to spot. However, the most recent decade has been 8% wetter than the 1961–1990 average, with trends being most apparent in winter and summer.
Climate change is also affecting conditions at sea; sea surface temperature has increased by 0.6°C from the 1961–1990 average and the sea level has risen by 16 cm since the start of the 20th century. Sea-level rise increases pressure on intertidal habitats and may lead to more severe flooding and coastal erosion by waves.
PROJECTIONS FOR 21ST CENTURY CLIMATE The current predictions of the future UK climate, published most recently in November 2018, are provided by the UK Climate Projections 5,6. Projections are made for several different emissions scenarios. Given current levels of emissions, we present those for a high emissions scenario. There is projected to be a greater chance of warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers and by mid-century, the chance of hot summers, resembling the 2018 heatwave, will increase from <10% to 10–20%. Rainfall patterns will change significantly; increasing in winter and decreasing in summer. Sea-level rise will occur for all emission scenarios and at all locations around the UK with the associated risk of increased coastal flooding. Extreme weather events, such as drought and flood, will increase in frequency.
Extract from the NBN State Of Nature Report – October 2019