Abnormal, extreme, and unprecedented. Just three words that have been repeatedly used to describe the high temperatures of summer 2023, and the presence of El Niño means that forecasts are for much hotter weather to come. Settled conditions thanks to high pressure allowed temperatures in the UK to climb, both by day and by night, peaking at 32.3°C. Temperatures even reached 30.8°C on 13 June, which until this year had been the only date in June not to exceed the 30-degree mark in the UK.

This is the backdrop for the extreme temperature of June 2023 now having been confirmed as the hottest on record for the UK with an average mean temperature of 15.8°C being recorded as the highest since 1884, with all four home nations reporting their warmest June on record. If you haven’t already downloaded – I highly recommend #showyourstripes created by Ed Hawkins at the University of Reading as a way of visualising the crisis. Not unsurprisingly Met Office scientists are predicting that these extremes could happen every other year by the middle of the century.

The return of the El Niño climate pattern means the world is likely to break even more weather and temperature records this year. A recent study in Nature Medicine has linked the extreme heat which we experienced in summer 2022 to more than 61,000 heat-related deaths across Europe.

Moving to July and very unsettled weather, torrential rain and cool nights in the UK but over much of southern Europe fierce heat and catastrophic fires – as if there was need for any more evidence needed of a call to take urgent action to combat climate change and the need for horticulturists plants in a thriving horticultural industry, educating, growing and researching to secure our future.

David Richardson CHort FCIHort