This week, the United Kingdom experienced unseasonably warm weather. Tuesday marked the warmest February day on record for the U.K., with a high temperature of over 21 degrees Celsius, or over 70 degrees Fahrenheit, in Kew Gardens. On February 26th last year, Kew Gardens felt a high temperature of just 2.4 degrees Celsius (36.3 degrees Fahrenheit). The average temperature for February in the U.K. is between six and eight degrees Celsius (the mid-40s in Fahrenheit).
People took advantage of the warm weather, flocking to the beach to watch the sunset or go paddleboarding. But along with the mild weather came the eruption of multiple wildfires throughout the U.K.
A fire on Saddleworth Moor near the village of Marsden in Northwest England burned 1.5 square kilometers, or 370 acres. The cause of the fire has not been determined, but the recent warm, dry weather enabled the flames to spread rapidly across the grassy top layer of the moorland. Firefighters also fought blazes at Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh and Ashdown Forest, which inspired the Hundred Acre Wood in A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh.
Climate scientists have said this weather is not directly attributable to climate change, though warm spells like this are likely to increase with climate change and so similar fire activity can be expected in the future.
"I am very confident to say that there's an element of climate change in these warm temperatures," Friedericke Otto, acting director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, told the BBC. "But climate change alone is not causing it. You have to have the right weather systems too."