Threat of more bad UK summers

The Met Office says none of the extreme seasonal weather is unprecedented, and not necessarily the result of climate change. But a summit concluded the UK could be in line for many more bad summers.

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Warming Atlantic could be to blame for wet summers

Leading scientists and meteorologists today gathered at the Met Office to discuss the UK's unusual weather patterns in recent years.

Professor Rowan Sutton, of the University of Reading, said: "This spring was the coldest for over 50 years, 2012 was the wettest in a century and December 2010 was the coldest on record, with national records dating back to 1910.

"Research at the University of Reading suggests that recent wet summers could be caused by a major warming of the North Atlantic Ocean that occurred back in the 1990s. The North Atlantic ocean has alternated slowly between warmer and cooler conditions over the last 100 years.

"We saw a rapid switch to a warmer North Atlantic in the 1990s and we think this is increasing the chances of wet summers over the UK and hot, dry summers around the Mediterranean - a situation that is likely to persist for as long as the North Atlantic remains in a warm phase.

"A transition back to a cooler North Atlantic, favouring drier summers in the UK and northern Europe, is likely and could occur rapidly. Exactly when this will happen is difficult to predict, but we're working on it.

Earlier this month the Met Office said below average temperatures through March, April and May made it the fifth coldest spring in national records dating back to 1910 and the coldest spring since 1962.

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Met Office: UK extreme weather 'not unprecedented'

by Seth Conway - ITV West Country
The Met Office has said that none of the extreme seasonal weather is unprecedented
The Met Office has said that none of the extreme seasonal weather is unprecedented Credit: Nigel French/EMPICS Sport

The Met Office has said that none of the extreme seasonal weather is unprecedented but it's an unusual occurrence worth investigating.

The slow evolution of the Atlantic Ocean with its change in temperature affects the flow of the jet stream - and that's why we've had bad summers recently.

In a cycle of twenty years, there will be only some good summers amongst them.

Summit will examine extreme weather records

Snow or sleet now falls on the UK an average of 33 days a year according to figures from the Met Office between 1971 and 2000.

Meteorologists and scientists meet this afternoon at the Met Office to discuss recent, unusual weather patterns in the UK.

The Met Office records the most extreme weather as follows:

  • March 2013: Coldest since 1962
  • April 2012: Wettest ever on record
  • Spring 2012: Warmest ever
  • Highest daily maximum temperature record: 38.5C, August, 10, 2003, Faversham (Kent)
  • Lowest daily minimum temperature record: -27.2C, February 11, 1895, Braemar (Aberdeenshire)
  • Highest 24-hour rainfall totals for a rainfall day: (0900-0900 GMT): 279mm, July 18, 1955, Martinstown (Dorset)
  • Gust speed: 142mph, February 13, 1989, Fraserburgh (Aberdeenshire)
  • Snow: Between 22 January and 17 March, 1947 snow fell every day somewhere in the country

Read: A possible change of view on impact on climate change?

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Experts to examine 'unusual seasons' in UK

We have seen a run of unusual seasons in the UK and northern Europe, such as the cold winter of 2010, last year's wet weather and the cold spring this year.

This may be nothing more than a run of natural variability, but there may be other factors impacting our weather.

For example, there is emerging research which suggests there is a link between declining Arctic sea ice and European climate - but exactly how this process might work, and how important it may be among a host of other factors, remains unclear.

The Met Office is running a workshop to bring together climate experts from across the UK to look at these unusual seasons, the possible causes behind them, and how we can learn more about those drivers of our weather.

– Stephen Belcher, head of the Met Office Hadley Centre

Experts to discuss UK's unusual weather conditions

March 2013 was the coldest on record since 1962. Credit: PA Wire

Leading forecasters and scientists are due to meet to discuss what is causing the UK's unusual weather conditions.

It comes after the freezing winter of 2010, last year's droughts and floods and the coldest spring for more than 50 years.

Read: Met Office to investigate Arctic link to record low temperatures in the UK

Discussions at the Met Office in Exeter will seek to answer whether the unusual seasons were the result of natural variation or linked to impacts of climate change, such as melting Arctic sea ice, which could be influencing weather