New temperature record set for UK in heatwave, Met Office confirms

A new temperature record for the UK was set on Thursday as a heatwave gripped the country, the Met Office has confirmed.

A temperature of 38.7C (101.66F) was recorded at Cambridge University Botanic Garden on Thursday, exceeding the previous record of 38.5C (101.3F) set in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003.

Record-breaking UK temperatures
(PA Graphics)

The figure was first announced as a provisional temperature on Friday and has now been validated by the Met Office observations team.

It means the UK joins Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands in breaking national records as exceptionally high temperatures gripped large parts of central and western Europe last week.

The new official record was taken at the Botanic Garden, which houses a Met Office climate observation site that reports every 24 hours, prompting the release of the provisional figure.

It has been subject to quality control and analysis over the past few days and has now been confirmed as a new official record for the hottest temperature seen in the UK.

The Met Office said some observation sites report monthly, so there is still a chance even higher temperatures have been recorded from the heatwave, which saw much of the country sweltering in unusually hot conditions and causing disruption to transport.

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Hottest July day on record
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Hottest July day on record
People enjoying the sun shine on Bournemouth beach as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
EDITORIAL USE ONLY Customers fill up water bottles at the free Rehydration Station at Boots store in Covent Garden, London.
People waiting at Grantham station as cancellations from Grantham into London continue due to the hot weather.
EDITORIAL USE ONLY Customers fill up water bottles at the free Rehydration Station at Boots store in Covent Garden, London.
A Southeastern train passes through heat haze in Ashford, Kent as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
People play a game of volleyball in a pop up court in Canary Wharf, London, after 200 tonnes of sand was brought in to fill a space between the tall financial buildings.
A barbary macaque enjoys a frozen fruit and nut treat at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius at Heathrow being recorded.
Amur tiger Minerva cools off in her pool at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius at Heathrow being recorded. The UK's all-time record of 38.5 degrees may be broken later this afternoon.
People enjoying the sun shine on Bournemouth beach as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
People enjoying the sun shine on Bournemouth beach as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
People enjoying the sun shine on Bournemouth beach as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
People play in the water at Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool in Derbyshire, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People play in the water at Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool in Derbyshire, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People play in the water at Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool in Derbyshire, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People play in the water at Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool in Derbyshire, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
Workmen enjoy ice creams in Manchester as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
RETRANSMITTING WITH CORRECTED BYLINE TO JACOB KING. People play in the water at Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool in Derbyshire, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People sunbathe in Hyde Park, London, after temperatures climbed above 30C in some parts of the UK after a tropical night, as the country braces for record-breaking heat.
A man shades his head with a flannel in Hyde Park, London, after temperatures climbed above 30C in some parts of the UK after a tropical night, as the country braces for record-breaking heat.
People boating on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London, after temperatures climbed above 30C in some parts of the UK after a tropical night, as the country braces for record-breaking heat.
A young woman tries to keep cool in Hyde Park, London, after temperatures climbed above 30C in some parts of the UK after a tropical night, as the country braces for record-breaking heat.
People punt along the River Cam in Cambridge, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
Hamza and Haris splash in the water feature beside the National Football Museum in central Manchester, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People splash in the fountains in Piccadilly Gardens in central Manchester, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People enjoy the hot weather on Brighton Beach as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People enjoy the hot weather on Brighton Beach as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
A couple row up the Thames approaching the bridge at Hose Fair, near Kingston-upon-Thames. The UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People enjoy the hot weather in Hyde Park, London, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People enjoy the hot weather in Hyde Park, London, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
The sun rises over Burton Dassett Hills in Southam, Warwickshire. The UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
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Experts warn that global warming, caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels that are increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, is making heatwaves more likely and more intense.

A study from the Met Office previously showed last year's summer heatwave was made around 30 times more likely than it would be under natural conditions as a result of human activity driving global warming.

Dr Mark McCarthy, from the Met Office National Climate Information Centre, said: "Historically UK summer heatwaves would typically tend to peak in the low 30s Celsius, with extreme events reaching the mid-30s.

"The UK climate has been warming since the mid-20th century, and this has been accompanied by similar increase in the hottest day of the year, which for the most recent decade has been 0.8C higher when compared with the period 1961-1990.

"Climate change has increased the likelihood and severity of heatwave episodes across Europe, which will have also increased the risks of a 40C temperature event in the UK."

Professor Peter Stott, from the Met Office, said that while average global temperatures have risen by around 1C since the Industrial Revolution, some areas have warmed more quickly, with North Africa seeing rises of 2C.

He said: "This can have a marked effect on UK weather because when the weather patterns, like we saw last week, bring air from this region to our shores, it can bring a stronger signal of climate change with it too, boosting temperatures.

"The UK receives influences from other neighbouring regions and as many of these regions are warming at a faster rate than the UK, our climate can receive a greater boost from climate change."

The Government's advisory Committee on Climate Change has warned the UK is not prepared for the increase in heatwaves that is expected with global warming.

Earlier this summer, it called for more action to make sure homes and other buildings such as hospitals and care facilities can be comfortable and safe in higher temperatures.

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