Why 12 Celsius would be a record high temperature in the UK!

The hot and dry weather in the UK during June, July and early August in 2018 has got us all asking what the record high temperatures for our location are and whether we’ve been getting anywhere close to breaking them. The last blog looked at some of those records and showed that generally we didn’t quite break anything this year, so far! While we bask in the 30+ degrees heat it’s easy to forget the more typical ‘average’ conditions throughout the year, for in most summers and in most places we are excited if the temperature gets anywhere close to 30 Celsius.

So what is the average temperature in the UK? Well, there are figures for every month and every location, of course, but the average temperature across the year as a whole (as measured over a 30 year period from 1981-2010) is for most of us somewhere between 8 and 11 degrees Celsius – and that sounds pretty chilly compared to our record highs. And where is the warmest place on average? In the British Isles it is 11.6 Celsius, in the Isles of Scilly, and on the mainland it is 11.3 Celsius around Penzance in Cornwall. Actually, Jersey is warmer, at 11.9 Celsius, but this isn’t technically part of the British Isles or the UK. Generally the further south and west you are in the UK, the higher the average temperature will be, as the higher summer temperatures plus the heating effect in winter from the Gulf Stream on the west coast keeps things warmer. This all means that nowhere in the UK or the British Isles has an average temperature as high as 12 Celsius, at least at present – although who knows what global warming might do to these figures in the future

It’s interesting to look at differences in average temperatures within individual counties as well. Not surprisingly, the differences are largest in counties which have a wide range of altitudes, as the lowest average temperatures are in higher locations. Where the counties are smaller or are relatively ‘flat’ in elevation there is not usually much difference between places. Two examples show this well.

Derbyshire lies in the East Midlands of England, and stretches from the River Trent in the south to the moorland hills of the southern Pennines in the north. The warmest place, with an average temperature is 9.8 Celsius across the year, is in the south around the village of Willington, which stands on the River Trent 10km south west of Derby. The coldest place, in contrast, is the village of Chelmorton which stands at 355m above sea level on the limestone plateau of the White Peak, 8km south east of Buxton and is the highest village in Derbyshire. Its average temperature is 8 degrees Celsius.

The ceremonial county of Greater London has a very different ‘geography’ to Derbyshire, and has less variation in altitude. It is also quite a bit further south than Derbyshire, and at lower altitude overall. Although the highest temperature ever recorded in Greater London was 36.7 Celsius at Heathrow Airport on 1st July 2015, the average temperatures for the county are much lower. The warmest place on average in London is Westminster, as measured at the weather station in St James Park, where the average annual temperature is 11.2 Celsius. The coldest place on average is Biggin Hill, in the Borough of Bromley in the south east of London, where its location on the higher parts of the North Downs means its average temperature is 9.7 Celsius. So, central London is amongst the warmest places in the UK, and only slightly colder than the coast of Cornwall.

Where do you think the warmest and coldest places are in your own county, on average?

And Finally….!

The Must Get Out More Question !

Where is the longest section of straight road in the UK? 

The Answer to the Last Question

Where, and in which county, has the earliest evidence of human occupation in the UK been found?

The earliest evidence of human occupation in the UK is the hand axe found on the beach at Happisburgh (pronounced Hazebrough) in Norfolk in 2000. The Happisburgh Hand Axe has been dated to 600,000-800,000 years old, which is 200,000 years older than any other human evidence in the UK, and makes it the oldest evidence of human occupation anywhere north of the Alps in western Europe. In May 2013 researchers also found footprints preserved in the same beach sediments nearby, which have now been dated to 800,000 years old, and are therefore the oldest hominid footprints found outside Africa. The footprints were destroyed by the tide shortly after their discovery.(Grid Reference TG38543088)

The Record Locations

You can use the Grid References provided to locate record locations on a map at www.streetmap.co.uk

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