LONDON - Britain experienced its hottest year on record in 2022, the national weather service confirmed on Thursday, saying human-induced climate change had made what would normally be a once-in-500-year event likely to happen every three or four years.
The Met Office said the average annual temperature was 10.03 degrees Celsius (50.05 degrees Fahrenheit), topping 10C for the first time and the highest in records dating back to 1884.
The 2022 average was 0.89C above the 1991 to 2020 average and 0.15C above the previous hottest year, set in 2014.
"The results showed that recording 10C in a natural climate would occur around once every 500 years, whereas in our current climate it could be as frequently as once every three to four years," said Met Office scientist Nikos Christidis, commenting on a study which compared the current climate against one with historical human influences removed.
The Met Office findings, which confirmed provisional results published in late December, came as record-high winter temperatures swept across parts of Europe over the new year, bringing calls from activists for faster action against climate change.
Met Office climate models projected that under what it called a medium emissions scenario, average British temperatures above 10C could occur almost every year by the end of the century.
In July, Britain recorded its hottest day to date with temperatures exceeding 40C. A drought was declared in parts of England for the first time since 2018.
Since 1884, all the 10 warmest years have occurred after 2003.
"Even with the influence of climate change we don't expect every year to be the hottest on record from now on," said Mark McCarthy, Head of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre.
"Natural variability of the UK climate means there will always be some variation year to year, however looking at longer term trends it is easy to pick out the influence climate change is having over time."
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Kate Holton and Alex Richardson)