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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2006, 01:27 GMT
2006 sets British heat records
A leaf covered in water drops
Feeling the heat: Plants' behaviour is affected by the climate
Several records for temperatures in Britain have been broken during 2006.

Scientists from the Met Office and the University of East Anglia (UEA) say the year was probably the hottest in central England since records began.

The average growing season temperature was the highest recorded in central England, while previous maximums for individual months were also passed.

Globally, 2006 was the sixth hottest year on record, cooled by La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean.

The top 10 warmest years recorded globally have all occurred during the last 12 years.

Hotter than July

The Central England Temperature Record (CET) is the oldest continuous dataset for temperature anywhere in the world.

2006 10.84C (1.37C above average)
1999 10.63C (+1.16C)
1990 10.63C (+1.16C)
1949 10.62C (+1.15C)
2002 10.60C (+1.13C)
1997 10.53C (+1.06C)
1995 10.52C (+1.05C)
2003 10.50C (+1.03C)
1989 10.50C (+1.03C)
2004 10.48C (+1.01C)
(Difference from mean Central England Temperature 1961-90)

Its principal finding this year is that the average temperature for 2006 was almost certainly the highest ever seen in 347 years of CET measurements.

Researchers cannot be absolutely certain until the year has ended.

The average temperature for the year up to 13 December stands at 10.84C. In the 1950s, the CET showed an average of about 9.4C.

"This year sees the highest average temperature recorded since the CET series began in 1659, and the rise above the average is significantly higher than that for the two hottest years we have experienced," said Professor Phil Jones of UEA's Climatic Research Unit.

Among the other records set were:

  • the warmest ever April to October growing season, with a mean temperature of 14.6C
  • the warmest month on record - July, which saw a mean temperature of 19.7C
  • the warmest ever September, with an average of 16.8C
  • the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK during July - 36.5C, at Wisley
  • the warmest ever autumn, with a mean temperature of 12.6C
  • the highest July temperature ever recorded in Wales - 34.6C at Gogerddan

England temperatures
"2006 has been quite extraordinary in terms of the UK temperature, with several records being broken," commented Met Office climate scientist David Parker.

"The figures support recent research... which showed links between human behaviour and the warming trend."

Globally, temperatures were 0.42C above the average for the period 1961-1990. By comparison, 1998 was 0.52C above average.

The researchers say temperatures were cooled in the first half of the year by La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean.

During La Nina, sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific fall below normal. La Nina conditions are one extreme of a natural cycle which also incorporates El Nino, associated with higher global temperatures.

Parts of Australia are experiencing their worst drought on record, which is reducing economic growth.

If you have any photographs illustrating the unseasonal weather where you live you can send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or text them to 0044 (0)7725 100 100.

Scenes from this year's hot weather

England's warming 'not natural'
19 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature

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