On the same floor plate and right next door to the Climate Attribution team at the Met Office down in Exeter, is the Department for Odd Climate Statistics. The mantra of the ‘Docs’ team (as they are known) is simply this: If you can’t find any new climatological evidence that the climate is warming then dream up a new statistic that can! And so it was with the record number of consecutive days with temperatures of 34°C or higher in the August heatwave of 2020. Did you wonder who decided on 34°C? It’s a bit of an odd temperature 34°C it’s 93.2°F. Why not go for the the more catchy 32°C or 90°F? Or even 35°C or 95°F which definitely has more of a ring about it than 93.2°F. Well the answer is when they looked at 32°C but the 2020 heatwave didn’t break any records at all. So they tried 33°C, but that also failed. So one bright member of the team decided to push the envelope out a little further and try 34°C, and hey presto, we have a new record hot spell that exceeds all others back t0 1961! Only 1961? Yes, although the Met Office was established in 1854 with one of it’s roles to collect weather records across the UK on our behalf, they only have daily temperature records for the last 69 years. Isn’t that just amazing, and reflects just how important past climate data is to them.
Is it any wonder that this is the first time we have had six days in a row with temperatures of 34°C or higher in London?
I fully accept that the maximum temperature in St James Park reached 34°C or higher for the last six days in a row, but I hardly think that is so surprising when you see the changes that have gone on, not only across London but in the whole UK in the last thirty years. Urbanisation has a big part to play in a warming climate, just as much as AGW does in my opinion. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that warm air blowing through the east end of London (as it has been doing for the last three or four days), will lift daytime maximum temperatures in places further west, at places such as nearby St James Park, and even further west at Heathrow Airport. The air in the lowest hundred metres of the atmosphere must come into contact with more tarmac, concrete and glass that it has ever done in the years before, it also has to weave between the many high rise office blocks, mixing with all the exhaust warm air thrown out by their air conditioning systems. So is it any real surprise that we see six days with temperatures of 34°C or higher in London? Not really. We are not only buggering up the planet by pumping vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere but what we do to on its surface.