Warming Stripes

UK climate warming stripes 2023

This unmistakable graphic, known as warming stripes or climate stripes, shows just how much the UK climate has changed recently.

Each stripe represents the average temperature for a single year, relative to the average temperature, over the period from 1884 to 2023. Shades of blue indicate cooler-than-average years, while red shows years that were hotter than average. The stark band of deep red stripes on the right-hand side of the graphic show the rapid heating in recent decades.

Working with the Met Office and Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading), Carbon Copy has released local versions of the latest warming stripes covering all 379 primary council areas in the UK.

What is concerning is that for 119 of those areas (roughly a third), 2023 was the hottest on record. Was your area one of them?

person overheating in hot weather

Why do we care if average temperatures are becoming hotter? All too quickly, things turn from nice hot summers to heatwaves and water shortages. We are more vulnerable to “all or nothing” rain patterns with very wet months and flash flooding in more places. Ironically, we also are susceptible to colder spells as warming temperatures push cold air into non-traditional areas. In short, our weather becomes increasingly unpredictable and extreme.

We would do well not to look away from these local climate stripes. They are striking visuals of our changing climate and useful for starting bigger conversations. What can we do together? We can adapt our neighbourhoods and towns so the places where we live can withstand these changes. We can build a stronger sense of community locally so that collectively we can cope better. We can give our government – at all levels from national to local – permission to take much bolder action on the climate emergency and nature crisis.

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