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Listen: Highest ever temperature recorded in Durham

Durham has recorded its highest ever maximum temperature of 36.9°C.

The reading was taken at the University’s Durham Observatory weather station on Tuesday 19 July 2022.

This new record high temperature is four degrees more than the previous record set on 25 July 2019.

Britain’s record high temperature is 40.3°C, also set on 19 July 2022 in Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

According to data from the Durham Observatory, the minimum temperature on the morning of Wednesday 20 July 2022 of 17.7 °C is the fifth highest on record for any month.

However there have already been two higher minimum temperatures this month including 18.4°C set on Tuesday 12 July – the second highest minimum temperature on record.

“Astonishing” new high

Emeritus Professor Tim Burt, who runs the Durham Observatory weather station, said: “Usually, records are broken by just a few decimal points, so the difference between Durham’s new maximum high temperature and the previous record of three years ago is astonishing.

“Depending on what happens between now and the end of the month, it will be one of the hottest Julys on record. Currently it is number one, but that may well change with somewhat cooler weather to come.

“This is a reflection of a clear trend in climate warming, seen globally and reflected in the Durham weather records. Such a high maximum temperature would have been inconceivable in the 19th Century.”

Continuous weather record

Durham is one of only three places in the entire British Isles where weather records have been made continuously at the same spot since the 1840s.

As a result the Durham Observatory record has an important role in both regional and national climate science contexts.

Professor Burt, in our Department of Geography and colleague Dr Stephen Burt, of the University of Reading, last month published a book detailing the Observatory’s records called Durham Weather and Climate Since 1841.

Effects of global climate change

In the book they consider the long-term effects of global climate change on the City.

This included an observed rise in mean average temperature of 1.62°C since the decade 1851-60 and a related extension of the growing season for plants by about six weeks over the period since then.

The book also charts a relatively sharp increase in the frequency and amount of rainfall in the last 20-30 years, offset by an increase in sunshine, particularly in winter.

The authors say this is most probably due to decreases in the frequency and duration of fog, itself a result of reduced aerosol emissions from coal-fired domestic and industrial properties.

Find out more

  • The Durham Observatory’s weather records are available online.


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